review by Maryom
Katy Clemmy is a lonely teenager, not part of the popular crowd at school, and subjected to abusive texts and e-mails from the boys in her form. Her home life is disruptive with her parents constantly arguing, and her mother Corinne generally hiding away in her room in an alcoholic haze. Having no one else to turn to, Katy seeks advice from the pages of teen-magazine Misty - sending letters to their 'agony aunt', believing all the beauty articles and being persuaded into a questionable course of action by the adverts.
Katy's English teacher, Jane Ellingham, is the only one to notice something wrong in Katy's life. Seeing something of herself in the teen, and feeling Katy's life could end up totally de-railed, Jane steps in to help when Katy disappears, and finds herself totally caught up in the Clemmy family's problems. Jane's life has not turned out the way she planned it either - pushing middle-aged and still single, she's become disillusioned with life and men, but believes the blame lies with her mother and a decision she forced Jane into while a teen.
Beauty Tips For Girls is the story of three very different women - a teen, a mother and a spinster. I'd almost liken this to a coming of age novel, if two of the women weren't already 'of age', but it's certainly a book about finding oneself. It's a novel of loneliness, the expectations forced on us by society, and the pressure of bad advice, even when well-intentioned. The story is told in a mix of straightforward narrative, an Alcoholics Anonymous style confession from Corinne, and various snippets from, and letters to, Misty magazine.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone over the age of 14 - it's very readable and has something for all ages to relate to. It has as much to say about teenage relationships as about a mother's grief or a women's disappointment with love.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - CargoGenre - adult/teen crossover