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The International Writers Magazine: Childrens Books Reviews

Bras, Boys and Bad Hair Days by Anita Naik
Publisher: Hodder Children’s books.
ISBN: 9780340970577
Kathryn Honeycombe

Having a bad hair day? Fancy that guy in school who’s just too cool for you? Sick of your family treating you like a kid? Or just in desperate need of some advice? Bras, Boys and Bad Hair Days says it all.

It is essentially a self-help guide for 12 to 14 year old girls. For those who are entering the realm of secondary school and trying to deal with a world of different emotions this book arrives in perfect timing. Recent films such as Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, based on Louise Rennison’s novel Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (sadly an old favourite of mine), also deal with similar themes and therefore capture a similar audience. Showing that this book fits with the culture of today’s young teenagers.

The book’s chapters all centre around how to live with different aspects of life be it living with your body, living with friends or living green. It attempts to boost the confidence of the reader with such themes as growing up, presentation of oneself on a day-to-day basis, sexuality and the opposite sex. This is seen in the closing quote ‘you have the power to turn things around. So don’t wait to be pushed – hold your head up high, take a deep breath and go forth and conquer your life with style.’

As in many of the chapters the ‘How to end sibling rivalry’ section is most profound in approaching the concept of maturity and power, yet Anita does this not through flattery or self-pity but by treating them as mature women – something a girl of that age would not have normally been greeted with before.

The book is instructive in how to cope with everyday dilemmas that the ‘modern woman’ has to deal with. I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of the book. It isn’t dealing with the girl’s insecurities in a way that makes them comfortable with themselves. She discusses ‘How to have style’ helping a girl to choose what style suits her personality and body shape yet in ‘How to get a guy to like you’ she doesn’t once mention that a guy should in fact like you for who you are. Many of these little sections don’t consider that the girls can be themselves and can naturally mature into who they should be.

Some of the sections, such as ‘How to get over a guy’, however did make me think twice about the image of the book and its aims. Though simple in many respects the book does subtly prepare girls for the real hardships of later life. This is also seen in the ‘Living Green’ chapter, which approaches the subject of global warming, something which should be on everyone’s mind. What also provided some insight into the book was the way it could be read. I found it actually came in handy in my household of girls, laughing at ‘How to give an expert kiss’ and taking on board the ideas behind ‘How to get over a guy’.

Yet I am still uncomfortable with the notion that girls this age need advice from an outside influence.
I think perhaps the book started out to as trying to help young girls with growing up, but went too far by just focusing on moulding them into someone who follows the conventions of society. I wouldn’t recommend this ‘self-help’ guide to a young girl. It is too simplistic to truly help, which leads to too many generalisations on how girls should act and react to different events in her life. Be it breaking up with a boyfriend of two weeks or wishing you didn’t have that mass of untameable curls on your head. If however you feel you would enjoy this book I suggest you don’t take it too seriously or attempt to follow the rules as strictly as presented, but to just enjoy it for what it is aka: bras, boys and bad hair days.

© Kathyn Honeycombe October 2008
kathryn at
Kathryn is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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