I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I love books set in England, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read My Mad Fat Diary by Rae Earl. I usually prefer material set in the 19th century, and I am choosing to ignore the fact that a book set in 1989 is almost thirty years in the past, and might be conceivably classified as “historical”.
This book was originally published a few years ago in England, and Rae has kindly included a glossary at the beginning for the American publication. The original English slang remains unchanged, so a glossary is very handy for readers who might not be as familiar with the slang words from England.
When the diary begins, seventeen-year-old Rae has just been released from a psychiatric hospital. Rae lives in Stamford with her single mother. She has a stepfather, but he lives in Morocco- it’s a long story. They live in public housing, but Rae has a scholarship to a posh girls’ school. Rae does not have a lot of close friends at school, and her best friend is a bit of a viper who chips away at Rae’s self-esteem.
Rae feels self-conscious about her weight, and compensates with humor. She’s very sarcy (sarcastic) and funny. She has a lovely group of friends who she hangs out with at the pub, including some of the boys from the school up the road. Over the course of the year, Rae puts all of her feelings down on paper. She shares her fights with her mother, her feelings about her weight, and the boys she secretly loves. Rae is very intelligent, but she also likes to have a good time. She’s creative, and I especially her descriptions of choreographing a version of The Wizard of Oz with 1980s pop music.
I loved My Mad Fat Diary. Rae is very funny, and I love her writing style. She’s just absolutely brilliant. While preparing to write my review, I’ve discovered that they made this book into a TV series. It didn’t air here in America, but it’s available on Hulu. Curiously enough, it’s set in 1996-which is just about when I was seventeen- rather than the 1989 like the book. I’m looking forward to watching the series because I can’t get enough of Rae.
I would absolutely recommend My Mad Fat Diary. Whether you were a teenager in 1989 or whether you’re a teenager twenty years before that or twenty years after, there are some commonalities about the awkwardness that is adolescence. Rae is sweet, and earnest, and I am looking forward to reading more of Rae Earl’s books, including the sequel to this diary!