Advantages Fun, interesting story, good moral message
Disadvantages Americanisms may be unfamiliar for some British readers
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Paisley Hanover is an American teenage girl, the star of the novel Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle. We follow Paisley from the first day of sophomore year (Year 11 in the UK) where she tries - but fails - to get into the Yearbook class, so ends up taking Drama instead. Separated from her friends who are all pretty well 'in' and popular, Paisley ends up mixing with the pupils in Drama, who are much more unorthodox.At the start of the book, Paisley hangs round with her friends Jen, Amy and Carreyn. Her best friend Jen has recently started dating a guy called Bodie Jones, who is a junior (older than Jen) and a star school sportsman. As Paisley says, he's a "total A-lister." But Jen's behaviour is changing, as she begins to see less of her old friends and more of Bodie and his hangers-on.
The Drama class sees Paisley getting to know different people, the unpopular crowd - kids known as weirdoes or freaks, those who dress in retro clothes, the quiet and shy, the ones who are regularly teased or picked on. As Paisley witnesses this behaviour first-hand, she decides to do something about it - and her alter ego, Miss UnPleasant is born...Despite being in my early forties, I found this book really easy to get into and I enjoyed it. The intended age range is twelve and over, but I would read more of Cameron Tuttle's books myself. The characters are wonderfully written and Paisley herself is great, very believable.
It is also an interesting examination of school and the hierarchy of student life. Although never seeming too 'heavy', it is actually a fascinating study of how pupils are judged on their looks, clothes, sporting talents and social abilities. Hopefully if the teenagers who read this are bullied or teased, they will be able to get some strength from Paisley and her actions in this book. It is an important message that children should feel able to be themselves and not believe they have to conform to a set image.The novel succeeds on every level. It's funny, witty, interesting, well-paced and a good fun story. Before I had even finished the book, my teenaged daughter (then aged sixteen) began it and she loved it, reading over 230 pages in one day!
It is a good sized book at 344 pages and after the novel itself has finished, there is a bonus with Paisley's 'notebook' included afterwards. This is a fun idea and an extra attraction for teenage readers, as it includes pages of apparently handwritten notes, articles, lists, drawings and doodles, which is lots of fun.Highly recommended - for adults and teenagers alike!
Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle was published in 2009 and is available in both paperback and hardback editions. At the moment, Amazon UK has both available with the paperback version costing £9.25 and £10.55 for the hardback. You can also get an unabridged audio download for just £4.04.Cameron Tuttle has since had a further book published in this series with Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells coming out in 2010 in hardback (£9.44) and the paperback version is due out this month.
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