Book Review: Boys For Beginners by Lil Chase

‘I’m just saying that if you ever want, like, a boyfriend or anything – not that I think you should get one right now – but if you did want a boyfriend ever, you might have to start being a bit more like a girl than a boy.’

Thirteen-year-old Gwynnie is just about to turn fourteen. While other girls in her year are all about boys and make-up, the closest she’s got to a boy is in a tackle on the football field. But when the totally hot Charlie Notts starts at school, Gwynnie decides now might be the time to start being a girl.

Gwynnie enlists the help of a gang of girls at school, headed by the super-confident Jenny. But is it really safe for Gwynnie to be let loose with lash curlers and strong eye-shadow? Has Jenny got a hidden agenda while giving Gwynnie her make-over? And will Charlie ever see her as more than a killer football player with skinny legs?

When everything comes to a head at the school prom, Gwynnie will learn some truths about herself and her new found girly friends. Has she risked the firm friendships she has with boys for that first kiss?

If you know a young teen girl then go out now and buy them this book, they’ll love it! Lil Chase captures in Gwynnie a relatable, funny, lovely character and everyone will be able to sympathise with her anxieties and woes as she discovers who she is. Reading Boys For Beginners I was instantly transported to my fourteen year old self.

As someone who grew up with a younger brother and boy neighbours, spending the vast majority of my time playing outdoors with them, I got Gwynnie straight away. While no where near as big a tomboy, and fortunately with strong female role models in my mother and grandmother (unlike Gwynnie who has been brought up by her Father and brother) I still recognised that moment when you feel left behind by your female peers at school and how confusing it can be.

Part of me groaned inwardly when Gwynnie decides to change – particularly for a boy! I was a bit annoyed that she felt pressurised into make-up, boys and new friends. However, looking back I think when we’re at this time of not knowing who we are, we are easily influenced, I was a bit of a follower myself and I guess I’ve done pretty much the same in my past to try and catch the eye of my crush of the moment. What I liked is how Lil Chase created a character who grew throughout the book and comes to realise that pretending to be someone she’s not has the opposite affect. I think this book is really affirming to teens and tells them that it’s ok to develope in your own way without following the crowd and that being yourself is far more attractive than you may think.

I found the writing witty and funny and the message comes across without ever sounding lecturey or dull. Chase gets that obsessive over analyzing between friends perfectly. I was in hysterics over the scrutiny of one text-I mean texts were before my time as a teenager I know, I’m old) but I remember discussing in fine detail with my girlfriends every single conversation (or more often, non conversation) we had with a boy.

Boys For Beginners is a fun, easy read and perfect for girls aged 11-16. Had I picked this up at that age I know it would have been a favourite. I think this is going to be a huge hit for it’s target age group and will keep it’s readers gripped and giggling until they turn the very last page. Recommended.

Published by Quercus August 4th 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

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