International Writers Magazine: Review
of My Depth by Helen Bailey
Publisher: Hodder Childrens Books 2008
far can you get a piece of melted cheese to stretch without breaking
it? One of the many concepts Electra Brown teases us with as she
innocently causes minor chaos between her recently separated parents.
Just like the Stuffed
Crust Pepperoni Feast Electra tucks into when the book begins, Out
of My Depth is loaded with all the tasty ingredients to wet a fourteen
year old girls appetite. Sneer at Tits Out, Electras rival
in her quest for the Spanish Lurve God; Laugh out loud with her two
best friends Sorrel and Lucy as they discuss the merits of the sacred
Snogability Scale; decide for yourself whether a score of 4.1 deserves
to drop to a 3.8 if the snogee in question loses his summer tan and
gets kicked out of the school football team; and cringe as Electra confesses
that her flavoursome daydreams turn sour with the intrusion of Freak
Boy, a definite snogability scorer of 1.1.
Electra addresses all the vital pubescent matters from how you can get
your face to look longer and slimmer with the aid of dangly earrings,
hinting like mad to both parties in the parenting tree that your younger
brother, The Little Runt, is constantly hogging the computer and a laptop
would be a necessary homework need, to why on earth one of Tits Outs
chicken fillets was found under your bed after the accidental, vodka
induced party you threw whilst your mum was away with The Grease Monkey
having relations (as your dad would say). It really is a
wonder that this bothered fourteen year old has time to be concocting
the careful plan of getting the parentals back together.
This light hearted spin on how to deal with a life changer is a refreshing
reminder that comedy can be created in the most frustrating of youthful
trials. Despite the slapstick taking centre stage, Electras wit
and intellect is also a good endorphin stimulator, even if her mind
seems to range beyond the knowledge and intellect of perhaps your average
schoolgirl. You will both sympathise and despise her as she demonstrates
greed and generosity simultaneously, a common and loveable factor in
a girl that just wants to grow up. The fact that Electra is a self-confessed,
shallow wannabe amongst her peers only provides good entertainment.
Her attempts to impress the Spanish Lurve God and widen the berth between
her and Freak Boy are loveable traits within the tale, although they
do make us question the values within teen culture. Perhaps it is just
a mark on the levels of insincerity we can succumb to, but the only
puzzle within the story is why her high school opponent and hub of girly
gossip, Tits Out, winds up giving her a birthday present. Come
on Electra, friend or foe?
Helen Bailey has written a forgivably sarcastic tale for everyone that
has ever had to go to school with a challenged bra size or learn exactly
how to get along with parents at war. Following on from her introduction
of Electra in Life at The Shallow End, Out of My Depth
gears up fans of the episodic Burkes School tales for Baileys
third instalment to the series, Swimming Against the Tide, due
for release in February 2009.
The stroppy teens banter can become a bit of a nerve tapper, but
this does emphasise her triumphs when her good intentions finally surface.
Electra stays sharp despite her one track attitude, and any girl that
uses the phrase mammaries to describe her mothers
breasts or informs you that bald eagles mate for life is surely worth
© Jess Armstrong
Jess is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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