It’s the 80s. Rae is 17, mad about boys and music and lives with her mother in a council house. She’s also struggling. The relationship with her mother is strained, but that’s the least of her problems. Rae is fat which makes her incredibly insecure and she also has mental health issues that make her life even more difficult. But she’s also funny, smart and there are the boys in her neighborhood to obsess about.
I watched the TV show based on this book (and its sequel) and fell in love with it pretty immediately. And now that I finally picked up the book, I loved it, too.
There was a lot that felt familiar about My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary. Even though I grew up very differently from Rae – about a decade later (actually at the time when the TV show is set), in a different country and without mental health issues (a light version of those came temporarily after my teenage years, though), I was fat as a teen already and I recognized Rae’s struggles with her weight. A lot. Especially the feeling that life will really start once you’ve lost the weight and finally reached your true form.
It’s utter bullshit of course, and I’m glad that I got over this line of thinking, but it did shape my life and outlook in many ways when I was a kid. And it isn’t something I ever read about in books and it’s something I never saw on TV until I saw My Mad, Fat Diary, so that alone of course gave the book all the brownie points.
But that’s not everything that the book has to offer. Rae is funny (definitely funnier than I ever was), there’s her best friend Mort who is also amazing and I loved how Rae’s relationship with Haddock (codename) developed. Since the series differs a lot from the books, there was no way for me to know where things would be headed. And even though I very much respect the decision not to put it into the book, privacy and all, I’m still dying of curiosity what Rae told Haddock that was so horrible.
Since books and series are so different and since the book ends with things unresolved (as autobiographical stuff is bound to be), I had to get the sequel immediately, mostly to see how things with Rae are going, and of course, also to see how things with Haddock are going. I just wasn’t ready to leave them just yet.
Summarizing: Wonderful. Beautiful. Amazing.