My Rocky Romance Diary is the fourth book in Liz Rettig's YA ChickLit series about the life and loves of a Glasgow schoolgirl. As you may have guessed from the title, this instalment of Kelly Ann's diary is all about her troubled relationship with sensible boyfriend Chris. Now a medical student, he's moved out of home - but Kelly Ann soon discovers that between his studies, work commitments and irritating housemates, it's not going to be easy to find time alone together. And while Chris is looking at life in the long-term, Kelly Ann is finding all his talk of 'settling down' a bit stressful. Especially when her eye is wandering towards mysterious new boy Matt, who plays the guitar and rides a motorbike and definitely isn't the type to be discussing ten-year career plans.
In many ways, disaster-prone diarist Kelly Ann is like a teen version of Bridget Jones. She's funny, flighty, and incredibly easy to relate to. She makes bad decisions sometimes, and falls (literally) flat on her face sometimes, but most importantly she follows her heart. Of course, this time around she's not exactly sure what her heart wants: Chris, who loves her but is safe and predictable, or rebellious Matt, who she knows very little about... except that she can't stop thinking about him. Her friends think she's crazy for even contemplating risking what she has with Chris, but it soon becomes clear to the reader that a catastrophe of some kind is invevitable - and we wouldn't have it any other way. Because whether she's accidentally sitting on her employer's toy pedigree dog or finding her most embarrassing moment going viral on YouTube, Kelly Ann's catastrophes are invariably of the side-splitting variety.
While I picked up My Rocky Romance Diary expecting a light-hearted escapist read, in some ways Kelly-Ann and her friends are among the most believable British teens you'll find in the pages of a YA novel. Their antics are hilarious and often cringe-worthy, but they're also ordinary. They go to the local pub and get drunk and dance on the table... and then spend the entire next day nursing a hangover. Kelly Ann herself has a love-hate relationship with her parents, who embarrass her one minute, insult her the next, but occasionally do something that makes her realise they're not that bad after all. Even the love dilemma at the heart of this story is one that will strike a chord with anyone who has been in a 'serious' relationship: while many YA heroines seem intent on finding 'the one', Kelly Ann is a girl who has already found him... but can't help worrying that she's missing out on the fun she should be having.
My Rocky Romance Diary is rambunctious, girly, and laugh-out-loud funny. The Glasgow setting makes a refreshing change, and I think readers from all over the world will appreciate Kelly Ann's unique approach to life. This is one for readers who like their YA ChickLit with a healthy helping of humour.
Out: August 5th 2010, UK
Thank you to Random House / Corgi for providing a review copy of this book.