There are few things worse than being a teenager, but one of them is clearly being a teenager living in Brookside Close. Beth’s journals contain melodrama by the bucket-load. Dollops and dollops angst, bad decisions growing on bad decisions. It was altogether quite an exhausting read!
The story will be familiar to anyone who watched the Brookside soap-opera, but for those of us, like me, who were blissfully unaware, here is a short synopsis. This paragraph and the next two are spoilerful. Beth is a 17-year-old who starts the book living with her Mum and sister. Her dad is in gaol for domestic violence, and he also abused Beth although she hasn’t told anyone that. He is then let out of gaol and immediately tracks them down in their safe house and inveigles his was back into the house. This is the most awful bit of the book and I think the best writing in the story as we hear the maelstrom of emotion that Beth experiences over those weeks.
Unfortunately, it then all gets a bit Punch and Judy. Beth and her mother try to poison the dad and her Mum ends up stabbing him to death with a kitchen knife, and which point they wrap him in bin-bags and bury him under the patio. Yes, really. You would think that would be drama enough for any book, but we are only halfway through. Beth then falls in love with the boy next door who, it turns out, was previously accused of rape, so she freaks out. Now she is upset about that and endlessly concerned about people finding the body buried under the patio. She also gets almost straight As in her A-levels and heads off to uni.
But the drama isn’t over! She THEN decides that she is love with her best mate, who is also a girl. Cue endless angst from both of them. But then… is she falling for her university lecturer??? Life is very confusing for young Beth.
All in all this is a book probably best left to teenagers who have the emotional energy to cope with it. Or those hardened Brookside fans who have built up their tolerance. All I can say is that it is never this exciting on the Archers!
See you say this, but the one time in the last fifteen years that I have actually listened to an episode of The Archers, it featured a glitzy cameo from the Pet Shop Boys, who were assuring some hysterical broad that it was OK for her grandson (?) to be named Mowgli. The previous time I’d heard it the tone had been distinctly apocalyptic, amid the foot and mouth outbreak of whatever year that was. Plus ca change.
You are clearly drawn to the more exciting episodes. I always seem to get the ones where Linda Snell is trying to bully people into being in the pantomime. They always seem to be doing the pantomime.
Phew! Caught up!
That was some hardcore reading!