Withering Tights, by Louise Rennison
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Tallulah Casey is ready for the rest of her life to begin. At fourteen and a half she feels she’s stumbled through the opening lines and now she’s on the track to become a brilliant actress, or dancer, or something theatrical. That’s why she’ll be spending six weeks at a performance theater college saying goodbye to Tallulah and hello LULAH!
There are some dicey moments when she arrives that lead her to believe it might not be nearly as perfect as she imagined. First, she finds out that she doesn’t have a bed at the college so she’ll be sleeping at a place in town. And second, the town she’s living in is really…small. As in, inhabited by sheep small. Not even any shops.
But then she meets Vaisey, Ruby, Jo and Florence and soon she’s got a whole entourage of friends that are amazing and know how to have fun – even when they’re not really trying. And most of the time, to be completely honest, Tallulah isn’t really trying. She just sort of brings the fun with her.
With rave reviews all over Amazon from nearly every major publishing and library outlet and over forty user reviews (the book just released less than ten days ago) we figured this was a book we should definitely look at for Radiant Lit. As a mom of a thirteen year-old girl who loves drama and theater, I figured this book would be perfect.
It took me a little while to really begin to understand Tallulah’s voice. The book takes place in Britain and even though I love British television (there is at least one Doctor Who reference in this book by the way) and I regularly watch films and entertainment from across the pond, I still had a hard time. There are a lot of words and turns of phrase that I didn’t quite catch when the British-isms got mashed up with teenager-isms.
I did take note that the book states it is for ages thirteen and up. As I was reading, there was a lot of talk about boys, snogging (kissing for us American folk) and changes that happen to a young girl’s body around this time. It reminded me of the old days when I used to sneak Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret to my room to learn about things my mother wasn’t comfortable discussing with me. I admit to learning a lot of things from my friends.
This book was a lot different from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret though. I got a kick out of the girlfriends all talking and learning about things from each other. I thought that was fabulous. And the misadventures for the girls were hilarious.
As I was reading, I kept wishing that the book wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to figure out how to get boys to snog them. Or pushed so much toward dating. It’s mild – admittedly – when I look at many of the other things girls this age are reading. I guess I’m a stick in the mud when it comes to that with my daughter.
I’m also not a big fan of books where parents and parental figures are completely clueless or absent. I understand the “fun” of that for kids or teens that are reading, but as a parent, it would be nice if there were more decent role models out there.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, although I won’t be sharing it with my thirteen year-old. Not yet. I’m thinking fourteen or at least fifteen would be better for the direction some of these adventures are taking.
It will be interesting to see what trouble Tallulah will get into next in A Midsummer Tight’s Dream.
Rated PG-13: This is HARD PG-13. The book states that it’s for readers thirteen and up. I’d say at least fourteen to fifteen for some of the misadventures. Parents will want to read this to see what sorts of things might be offensive. (A passing reference to lesbians when someone mentions thespians, push toward kissing and dating, etc.) The book is fun, but for some of the references and questions I figured I’d be answering, I will wait before handing it off to my daughter.