Paperback, 368 pages.
Release date: May 30th 2013 (First published 2004)
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Arianne.
The first in the much-loved Diary of a Crush trilogy from bestselling teen author Sarra Manning.
New town, new college, new people, Edie's feeling overwhelmed. What if nobody wants to be her friend? But then something happens that turns her life upside down: Edie spots Dylan. Messy-haired, pouty, frustratingly elusive Dylan. . .
Fast forward to the college trip to Paris and things are really heating up. In between the shopping, the clubbing, the kissing and the making up, something happens between Edie and Dylan that changes both their lives for ever. But do boys like Dylan ever play for keeps?
This book follows sixteen-year-old Edie – never Edith – as she swaps old friends and old haunts for a new college and new adventures. She’s initially filled with trepidation at the thought of adjusting to the upheaval, but she needn’t have worried. She’s barely crossed the threshold when she finds herself face to face with him: The One.
Dylan’s not like the boys at her old school. He’s older, darker, broodier. He’s totally unavailable, but that doesn’t stop Edie. She’s infatuated. Who cares about studying? She’s got a crush to focus on.
Sixth form just got serious.
Diary of a Crush: French Kiss is all about giving the readers what they want. That means putting stolen moments at the back of the classroom and an age difference every teenage girl will envy (Edie is sixteen, Dylan is nineteen – totally unrealistic, but there’s always hope) alongside experiences that seem similar to our own. It doesn’t quite strike the balance, but Sarra Manning certainly gives it a hearty try.
Let me start by saying that I adore this author’s books. My favourite so far has been Adorkable – and I was hoping to feel the same way about Diary of a Crush.
Sarra Manning has a particularly individual writing style that comes at you, fast and sleek, the second you start reading. Unfortunately, this style is not present anywhere in this book. There are flashes of brilliance, but the overall standard just isn’t up there where it should be. The after-effects of magazine syndication – basic prose and repetition – still linger more than seventeen years after its original publication.
Manning does make other efforts to update the book, general writing standards aside. Most of the column leftovers have been cleaned up in favour of a more modern approach. Readers of a younger generation will have no problem relating to the celebrity-orientated conversation and the pop culture references which regularly sneak into the narrative. It’s a lack of focus on modern means of communication that lets it down. Edie repeatedly bemoans the fact that she has lost touch with all her old friends – within weeks of leaving her cosy home town – but the reality is, in today’s world it would be almost impossible to cut contact with your friends even if you wanted to! If they really mattered to her, she could find ways to keep in touch with them. What about Facebook, Twitter, emails, texting or even a phone call? Social media is a major plot device in Manning's Adorkable, so I would have liked to have seen more of that here.
Still, I can’t deny that Diary of a Crush Is absolutely, wonderfully, fantastically funny. It has deft use of humour and jokes you’ll never get tired of. I have never laughed aloud so much while reading. The comedy part of this romance, it seems, has stood the test of time.
While I wasn’t so sure about Edie herself as a character, I really liked Shona. She’s difficult to trust at first but not in that insufferable ‘I’m too good for you’ way that Dylan is. I loved Nat and Trent, too – in fact, they were far more likeable than moody Mia (who may have an actual ability to Apparate, she pops up or flops down beside Edie so often).
Personally I wasn’t a huge fan of Edie’s obsession with Dylan. I sympathised with her but there came a point where she needed to let go of Dylan but couldn’t. He treated her badly on more than one occasion, but of course, this book is from a time when YA had just begun to blossom, and things just had to work out well for them. I can understand why so many readers root tirelessly for Dylan and Edie. Their story mirrors the kind of early relationship many teenagers have or want. It doesn’t matter if someone’s unattainable or not worth of our time – we’re going to give it anyway.
In short: Diary of a Crush is far from perfect. The pace is slow and the writing isn’t fantastic, but the characters have bags of potential. Dylan and Edie are truly a pairing who define the unique experiences of teenagers in the early 21st century – the thrill of first love, the upheaval of changes in education, the trauma and triumph that go hand in hand with new friendships. Despite everything, I look forward to the sequel!