Every time I do a school visit, or go to a festival, I’m consistently asked the same question.
“What’s your favourite book?”
Without hesitation, my answer is the same.
“Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging.”
So, I was completely devastated to hear the news that Louise Rennison, author of the Georgia Nicolson books, has died. She is my biggest influence as a writer and her books are so intrinsically linked to my own teenagehood. I’m so, so sad that she’s gone.
But her books remain. And what WHAT books they are. So, to help alleviate my grief, I’ve written a celebration of why the Georgia Nicolson books are so great.
They are beyond funny
Not just funny-for-a-girl funny. Not the-occasional-discrete-tittle-on-the-train funny. No. These books make you laugh until you snort. Actual snot has flown out of my nose and landed some way across my face whilst reading them. There are so, SO, many funny moments in these books, but off the top of my head, some of the best bits are:
- Georgia dying a blonde streak in her hair with bleach and it snapping off in the Sex God’s hand
- Getting one of his buttons shoved up her nose when he lays her head on his lap
- Throwing her tennis racquet into the air after winning a match and knocking the umpire off their high chair
- “Hi Dig” (you have to be a big fan to understand that one)
Georgia isn’t pretty
And not just in that oh-I-think-I’m-really-ugly-but-everyone-fancies-me-anyway way. Rennison is careful in making sure the reader knows Georgia isn’t a supermodel – from her big nose, to her lurking-lurker outbreaks. But – shock horror – boys still like her! Even though her friend Jas famously says “boys don’t like girls for funniness’, Jas is routinely proved wrong. Boys fall for Georgia precisely because she’s funny, random, loud and brash. She wins them over with hilarity and wit, not by batting her boy entrancers. It gave teenage me, fellow possessor of a larger nose, such hope. And, also, some pretty great relationship advice – boys won’t be put off you for being funny, in fact, they really quite like it.
Teen relationships don’t always last forever
The first few books are preoccupied with Georgia trying to ensnare Robbie the Sex God. But, once she gets him, they don’t wander off into the sunset together. They have fights, they break up for reasonable reasons, like him moving away. Georgia has other relationships with other people. No-one in these books marries their first ever partner. Not that there’s anything wrong with marrying your first ever partner, but, for most teens, love comes and goes. And these books were the first romances I read that recognised that.
Female friendships are everything
The Ace Gang were #SquadGoals before Taylor Swift had even hit puberty. Georgia and her friends were everything my friends and I wanted to be. Everything we were. We did mad things, we made each other laugh til we cried, we sometimes hated each other and fell out over silly stuff. From fish parties, to the snogging scale – the Ace Gang were dedicated to being there for each other and making each other laugh. I honestly don’t think the Spinster Club would exist if I hadn’t read these books. They taught me to prize my female friendships above everything else.
The ensemble cast
Like Friends, a lot of the best comedy came from the bit-part characters. Elvis the grumpy caretaker who posed in the nuddypants. Sven, the cossack-dancing, nordic madman who only seemed to know the word ‘jah’. Nauseating Pamela Green a.k.a the best comedic name of all time. The bullying Bummer Twins. Whelk Boy and his snogging lessons. Mark and his big gob and wandering hands. Wet Lindsay and her thong. Every single teacher at her school…
I think you know you’ve made it as an author if readers adopt actual words you’ve made up. Think about words like ‘muggle’ for example. And this was true of Rennison’s books too. Since reading them, it’s never cold but nippy noodles. I never fancy someone, I’ve got the cosmic horn for them. My boobs are nunga nungas. Italy is Pizza-a-go-go land. My entire lexicon (I only learnt that word last year!) has expanded to fit the world she created.
Dave The Laugh
Essentially the best book boyfriend the world has ever known. I will never stop trying to find him in my own real life. Any boy who puts a ‘For Sale’ banner across the roof of his school is a keeper.
I am so sad today. But just writing this has cheered me up so much. And that’s what’s so amazing about authors – they never really leave us. They leave their books behind, their characters behind, their nip-nip eruptions behind. I will always feel so grateful that these books came into my life and they will never leave me. So, thank you Louise Rennison. I hope you are laughing like a loon on loon tablets away on a fast camel.