Monday 23 April 2018

Review: Fiction: Jenny Q, Stitched Up by Pauline McLynn

Puffin Books, £6.99,
Available with free P&P on or by calling 091 709350

Like Mrs Doyle from Father Ted, Pauline McLynn's attitude to writing appears to be to "go on, go on, go on!" As well as being an actress of note, she has discovered a whole new career for herself as a writer, with rom coms, thrillers and now this one, her first book for teenagers (or 'young adults', as they are called in the publishing world).

McLynn has long since shed the Mrs Doyle role and the hideous mole, but of course it will live with her forever.

Last seen on stage here in Fiona Looney's controversial Greener, she has written no fewer than eight adult novels and a play.

She is adept at rom com, and her private eye, Ms Leo Street (who readers can meet in her three detective thrillers), solves crime easier than she sorts out her own untidy life.

McLynn's most recent adult novel, The Time is Now (2010), even required her to devise an interesting time-travel twist.

But now, for the first time, she has turned to young adult fiction.

Jenny, the protagonist-narrator of Jenny Q, Stitched Up! is SO teenagerly, SO overflowing with capitals and exclamation marks.

Life is all either h8 ('hate' in textese) or heart ('love'), a cauldron of throbbing zits, bullies -- and mega embarrassments.

Jenny's parents' existence is mortifying enough, but -- horrors! -- her mother is pregnant! Truly. Deeply. Madly. Embarrassing.

There's the gang -- the friends with whom she shares secrets -- and withholds some too, to her own discomfiture.

And Stevie Lee, her brother's friend, the essence of COOL. If she dies without kissing him, she'll die!

We share her apprehension as she agonises about auditioning for Teen Factor X, a television show, and enthuses about a group business venture (making 'bath bombs' -- bath salts to you and me).

McLynn's terrific ear for idiomatic dialogue and her ability to thread hope through despair is graphically apparent in her adult fiction.

Here it isn't all teenage angst. The tone is light, but the subject matter is treated as seriously as ever.

Jenny Q and her friends knit (as indeed does McLynn herself) wooly mitts and hats as they chirpily natter, shop and bop their way through the trials of adolescence.

She's certain to reappear in future adventures. Teens will be SO lovin' her!

Mary Shine Thompson

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