Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey


I read Puberty Blues along with the Top Chicks ShirleyJess, Lissa, Zoe and Mandee a couple of weeks ago, and because I'm a slack-arsed moll I'm only getting around to writing my review now.

My first encounter with Puberty Blues was when I was a young teenager; my mum would sing the theme song from the movie whenever I would get all angsty. It was as annoying as it sounds. When I was a little older I watched the movie, and was pretty horrified, cringing the whole way through. When I was a little older than that, I watched it again, and this time thought it was equal parts horrifying and hilarious. Having now read the book, I can say my feelings for the source material are pretty much the same - I found it both horrifying and hilarious, often at the same time.

If you live under a rock - or, y'know, not in Australia - Puberty Blues is the semi-autobiographical account of two teen girls trying to fit in with the popular surfie crowd in 1970s Sydney. It's sparse in both length and language, with a frankness that emphasises the rawness of story. The narrator, Deb, describes characters and relays events in a matter-of-fact manner that leaves you with eyes wide and pearls clutched. I'm talking 13-year-olds having sex, doing drugs, being gang raped... I want to give a copy of this to every person who claims "kids today" are more sexualised than ever and say, o rly?

Interestingly, the fact that internal narration or reflection is limited works to highlight how awful the whole situation is, especially because when Deb does comment, it's very tongue-in-cheek. As they look back on events a few years down the track, it's clear Deb and Sue are wiser and definitely not OK with how they were treated in the past. There's a kind of credulity in certain parts; it's as though they're saying, "Yep, we did that, can you believe it?" But, importantly, while they may shake their heads at their naivety and invite others to do so, it's not about passing judgement on the girls. If there is judgement, it's on the boys who treated them so abysmally and the culture that not only allowed but encouraged this kind of behaviour.

Shirley mentioned in her review that she considers Puberty Blues to be a feminist book, and I agree. While it recounts some very sexist words and actions from a group of misogynistic boys (and girls, actually), the perspective of hindsight discussed above means that this sexism, while not overtly criticised, is purposely shown in a negative light. The closing scene, in which the girls triumphantly decide to forget about what others think, get their own surfboard and teach themselves to surf (something that was previously taboo) reinforces the ultimately feminist message. I would have liked this scene and their victory to have been expanded upon, but really, its brevity is in keeping with the rest of the novel.

I did appreciate the book, and there were parts that were really funny, but more than anything I was disturbed. It's scary to think that that's the way things used to be for girls - and even scarier to contemplate whether much has changed. I certainly hope it has!

While I think the writing was really effective overall, the first person narration didn't quite work at times. Although Deb is the main narrator, she would talk about events and conversations that she wasn't present for. Of course, it could be explained in that Sue (or someone else) told her about them - but it's not. I just found it sloppy and distracting. It could be due to the writers' inexperience at the time, but I would think an editor at least would pick it up. It's not a major problem, and I can see why this book is such a cult classic, even if it's not entirely enjoyable. At just over a hundred pages, it's a quick read - but not an easy one.

Rating: 3/5

Related
So excited for the TV show that starts tomorrow night, although it looks like they've seriously toned it down.



Fine Print
Genre: I guess this would be young adult, although it deals with pretty mature themes and has been around since before YA was officially a genre.
Published: 1982
Get It: Readings

37 comments:

  1. This sounds...intense. I haven't read Puberty Blues, and probably won't, but I definitely will be checking out the TV show tomorrow night on 10. Glad to hear you enjoyed this, great review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very intense. I plan on doing a review/comparison of the TV show so it will be interesting to see how closely it follows the book.

      Delete
  2. Great! Another reason to wish I lived in Australia! That show looks soooooooooooo good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I missed the premiere so I'm hoping I can find it online!

      Delete
  3. The sense of nostalgia for me is so strong, I loved the premiere!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought it was great! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

      Delete
  4. Hi there, the December edition of Books You Loved has just gone live today. Here is the link Books You Loved December Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think this is among the most significant information for
    me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The
    website style is perfect, the articles is really nice
    : D. Good job, cheers

    Feel free to visit my web-site ... skolewikien.dk

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am a Staff Author at Fieldengineer.com a Marketplace for On-Demand telecom workforce, extending from field engineers to high-level network engineers, project managers and Network Architects in 146 nations.
    Fiber Optics Installer jobs

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you so much because you have been willing to share many topics information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our and, Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually realize what you are talking about! assignments help - auditing assignment - best assignment help australia

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a article website, Its is ever green information to every user. I'm very happy to finally read this blog updates and, I am sharing my website about assignment related, If you have any questions and doubt, please visit my website and get solution of your problem about assignment related. I am sure it will be interesting. Essay Help - statistics homework help - college homework help

    ReplyDelete
  9. Are you searching for assignment help in the UAE? Then don’t worry! We provide you the best assignment writing services at very cheap prices. Visit our website for help with your work.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing the useful post. A reader got a lot of information from this post and utilized it in their research. I also provide independent support for the outlook email. So if you are facing issues with the outlook account then contact me for outlook support phone number.
    Also Read: Outlook not connecting to server | Outlook send receive error

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post, online blogs have becoming useful for educators, students, and learners to interact more effectively than ever before. They are also a great resource for those searching for the best tutors like Live web tutors. I am new to this platform but I stumbled upon it when it discovered. As its Dissertation Writing Services are absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nowadays all the Homework Helper that you purchase will get you a lot of features, this happened because now the homework assistance has been updated.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We are here for the last 10 years serving our clients. So what are you looking for? Would you please call us for the Call Girls in Mahipalpur? If you are looking for sensuality and passion, exotic, chilly experience and want to try new things, or you want the pleasure of a charming companions company,Are you looking for Call Girls in Mahipalpur and the best female escort service in Mahipalpur? so call us right now because we have so many escort females for you to have services at cheap rates because we are also in the business of Call Girls in Mahipalpur.ou can likewise appreciate incall services on the off chance that you don't have any space to appreciate with me. Come to Call Girls in Mahipalpur agency and carry on with the life jumbo. Our Call Girls in Mahipalpur are so sexy and beautiful; their curvy figure will tempt you a lot. It is not that the client is getting an extra pond of this thing but also our beautiful and attractive call girls are also looking for a young and handsome partner like you.Our Call Girls in Mahipalpur to give you all the Young Women escorts as per your wish which will provide soothing and persuading services, where and whenever you desired it. You will select these Mahipalpur Female Escorts according to your need.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your blog gave us significant data to work with. Each and each tip of your post are amazing. You're the best for sharing. Continue to blog

    ij.start.cannon
    www.office.com/setup
    www.norton.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  15. If you are pondering, "Who can furnish me with Assignment Help Brisbane and guide me through the application interaction?" you have our client heads. They offer nonstop service and answer your questions on live visit entrance, or messages.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Opt for assignment helper services in Australia if you don't want to miss the due dates. Pick the right service provider and share your project details carefully so you will not get any issue in the future. So, place your order now for assignment writing services.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Informative content! If you don't know how to research Persuasive Essay Topics then you should visit our website and get more information about the same. Browse our website for knowing more details about our services. We provide the best academic writing facilities at low prices.

    ReplyDelete
  18. hu post utme past question It’s truly a nice and useful piece of information shared, I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us and i look forward to more of your useful post.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Twitch TV is an online streaming video platform that allows any player to play anywhere in the world to live stream at twitch.tv/activate their game either on their own as well as in small groups. One of the coolest features of Twitch TV is that from it you can stream and stream any type or video stream.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just as we seem familiar with the latest version of the desktop setup, we have our line of top-level office.com/setup talks. In order to provide the best quality and the most complete bespoke experience to our customers, the Microsoft Office Setup Support team is available 24/7 for more information
    click here : www.office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for sharing valuable information especially for college going students. Do not take ore headache anymore as Online Assignment Help professional known what do you need to get sure shot examiner approval.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What in case you have to write something around 1000 words, like a blog post or an article? How Many Pages is 1000 Words? The answer to the query relies on the medium of those 1000 words. The number of pages for a certain number of words relies on the font, margins, spacing, size, and paragraph structure. The last format of your writing piece, whether it is a published book, or printed word file a page on a website, or an article in a magazine, additionally matters. Page count is also a required component of an academic assignment or business article or something that you can monitor for a personal reason. Hire our best essay writer to write your assignment or essay brilliantly.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am always looking forward to read the neat and clean quote. For this purpose, I found your content slogan effective and impressive. If we make to amicable environment to do work prosperity, then you attach with quotation of Assignment Help Online. In fact, it would be really helpful for you. Not only for you, but other people can access great knowledge with you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great post. It is the best platform for bloggers who want to write any type of story that will grab readers attention. You can also take assistance of an assignment writing service uk to write a professional blog.

    ReplyDelete
  25. As a best SEO company in Dwarka, Delhi. We Provide search engine optimization services to boost your business online presence and graw your sales.
    Get contact details and address of Renovation Services, Renovation Works firms and ... Customoised Home Renovation Services, In Delhi Ncr, Negotiable.
    Use the Blink Home Monitor app to check in on what's happening at home from anywhere at any time. The app connects your home to your phone in HD video
    Buy indoor plants online near dwarka, new delhi - Birthright offers indoor plants for home online in India. At our online nursery, We have a team of talented brand shapers who have the capability, passion and knowledge to deal with clients.
    You Found MyPCWala Online at Electronic Shop Near Me in India - A Shop For your favourite Hariom Electronics to get exciting offers on Electronics products. Get exchange offers, cashbacks and more.

    ReplyDelete
  26. canon printer provides an answer for all type of canon printer problems by which you can undoubtedly figure out how to set up from canon and improve insight. ij.start.canon

    ReplyDelete
  27. secrets cleaning home Tips From the Pros These cleaning professional secrets will make your house sparkle from top to bottom. Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
    natural health supplements 
    foreclosure investing pros 
    characteristics good policy 
    fitness equipment exercise 
    reinforcement learning machine 
    design information technology 

    ReplyDelete