International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction
Irina by Sarra Manning (Book 3)
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books (20 Mar
is trying to nick a dress from a Moscow Prada when she is spotted.
Not by the police, but by a glamorous couple who ask her if shed
like to be a model. Sarra Mannings latest instalment in the
Fashionistas sequence follows her rise from petty thief to
highly strung diva intent on proving shes more than the grumpy,
gangly Russian girl everyone else sees.
Growing up, I was
never a fan of the kind of teen chick lit Fashionistas
epitomises, and at first glance, the book made me grimace with the snobbery
of someone who grew up believing girls who straightened their hair every
day and painted their nails at lunchtime were losers. Teenage prejudice
aside, I found myself quickly absorbed into Irinas story, relishing
the sheer escapism Manning offers. She writes with the fluidity and
easy going charm that made her so popular with readers of teen mag J17
of which she was a frequent columnist.
Nonethless, Irina is the most unpleasant character I have read of in
a long time! She swaggers and hisses and spits, thundering down the
cat walk with all the charm and delicacy of a rhino with a headache...albeit
with great legs.
Manning tries to add dimension to the misunderstood model, after all
she rose from rags to riches extremely quickly and was always told by
her mother that Youre no good, youre just another
mouth to feed, youve disappointed me from the moment you were
born. And it doesnt help the poor girl that her agency,
Fierce, accommodate her in a house with three other models, each with
egos as exaggerated as their eyelashes. But it is difficult to
empathise with a character who is so relentlessly horrible to everyone
she meets, despite the fact that Manning so clearly wants us to see
the soft squidgy centre. Even token love interest Javier fails to get
her to be nice to him, and hes a hunky male model turned photographer
with a penchant for karaoke and a nice Spanish accent.
Fashionistas could offer an insight into the horrors of the fashion
world and its inhabitants, or it could be taken as fluffy escapism into
the dream lifestyle of many a star struck teenage girl.
However, I had to lend my mind to a serious suspension of disbelief
and force my scepticism into the pit of my stomach many a time. When
first approached, Irina worries shes about to be trafficked into
prostitution, in the real world...this is definitely more likely than
a young girl being swept off her feet and clad in Versace: voila! Instant
Regardless of my cynicism, I enjoyed the book and Sarra Mannings
friendly style (if not so friendly protagonist) spurred me on to finish
it. Teenage girls who read Teen Vogue will love this, without
feeling bitterly jealous theyre not in Irinas shoes...which
were informed frequently by the moaning model, hurt quite a bit.
Davis Aprli 2008
abydavis at hotmail.co.uk
Aby studies Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
by Sarra Manning
Tabz Parkes review
Definition: Someone who eats, sleeps, breathes and lives for fashion.
The Beverely Birch Interview
Finding myself sitting in front of a woman with 43 books in her name
and the power to make and break young writers dreams is rather humbling
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