Cute young-adult chick lit comedy
Fifteen-year-old Heidi’s family moves around a lot, and that combined with the fact that she’s an quirky, creative loner has caused her to have trouble making friends over the years. In fact, she’s often been labeled as a geeky outsider, with terrible nicknames like Frog Girl. For most of her teen years, her only friend has been a make-believe one, Mycroft Christie, a “time-traveling gentleman detective” from an off-the-air TV series with whom she has imaginary conversations. But somehow, this time around for her family’s current move, she gains two girlfriends, Fili and Ludo, and a gay male friend named Big Dai as her best friends. She also finds a terrific job working the counter at a small coffee shop/bakery run by a young divorced mom named Betsy and her handsome, curly-haired, eccentric eighteen-year-old son Teddy who is described this way: “Teddy appears in the kitchen doorway, tousled bed hair in place (lightly dusted with flour), apron on over the top of stripy pyjama trousers and monster-feet slippers.”
All is going swimmingly in Heidi’s life until all three of her friends get in relationships. Heidi feels left out and comes up with a scheme to create a fake, long-distance boyfriend named Ed so she doesn’t feel so out of things. Heidi finds it is fun and surprisingly easy for her to make a very convincing Ed–no doubt due to many years of practice writing out dialogues with Mycroft Christie, which she continues throughout this book. She creates an entire description, personality and voice for Ed and sets him up with a profile on a social network site. Unfortunately, almost from the start, things begin to go comically wrong as her three best friends start contacting Ed through the social network site. Heidi can’t resist giving them encouragement and advice with their romantic problems in the persona of Ed. And, meanwhile, she starts getting emails from a mysterious “Real Boy” who says he knows the truth about Ed and why doesn’t Heidi give him a chance to be her actual boyfriend?
This novel is written by a Welsh author who lives in Oxford, England, so I found the British slang in the book a bit hard to follow at times when I was first reading the book, but I soon got used to it. I would classify this book as young adult chick lit, with its focus on dating disasters, friendships, and social mishaps in general. The story is told in an alternation of regular scenes, electronic communications between the characters, such as chats and emails, and the imaginary conversations Heidi has with Mycroft Christie that Heidi has written out like a script. The use of electronic communication in young-adult novels has been frequently done, but I hadn’t seen the use of a conversation with a fictional character before in teen fiction. It reminded me of a technique employed by many fiction writers called “interviewing” a character. The writer types out questions and “channels” the character’s answer to them. When the writer employs another author’s character, as Heidi does here, she essentially ends up creating a very personalized version of “Mary Jane” fan fiction in which the fan writes herself into a story where she is a close companion of a character she adores from fiction.
Heidi is a sympathetic heroine who gets into trouble because she is basically a kind, caring person. I personally really enjoy stories like that, where the character’s chief virtue becomes the flaw that creates story problems. Her friends are also cute and funny, including her adult friend Betsy. And the boy she ends up with is adorable.
I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike who love chick lit comedy with an upbeat ending.