Boys, friendships, family stuff - all the drama of the early teen years is here in Hattie's diary. I enjoyed this and found myself snorting and laughing out loud more than once (much to the surprise of some nice bus passengers...). It's worth noting that the author is also the writer of TV's 'My Mad Fat Diary', but this is pitched much younger than the series.
Hattie is a typical 14 year old with normal 14 year old worries. She's trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in and for Hattie, this poses a particular difficulty. She's never known her father and sets out to do some detective work and figure out what's in her genes. That is, if she can fit it in around trying to date and generally navigate the social minefield that is being 14.
This diary-style novel tracks a whole year of Hattie's life and I greatly enjoyed getting to know her, her friends and her family. Her writing style is hyperbolic, full of capitals and dramatic statements but she is over-the-top in an endearing and naive way. I grew quite fond of her, and I defy anyone to read this and not be charmed by her.
Characterisation is definitely a strength here, which is no mean feat considering it's entirely presented as a diary so it's heavily filtered through the lens of Hattie's point of view. It takes real skill to present a whole novel this way and to maintain interest, and Rae Earl makes it look easy. I loved Hattie's Gran in particular - she was definitely responsible for some of my embarrassing public laughter.
The plot, with its various strands of family detection, romantic endeavours, social hierarchies and getting through school, is bright and breezy and zips along nicely. Hattie does deal with real-world problems but it's all very light and frothy and non-threatening, with a hearty dose of humour.
Overall, I enjoyed this and would definitely recommend it for its target 11+ audience. My 14 yr old was certainly drawn to it.