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Book Review: The Year of Living Awkwardly by Emma Chastain

Book Review: The Year of Living Awkwardly by Emma Chastain

Emma Chastain’s 2017 debut Confessions of a High School Disaster was a pure delight – a funny, fun and cringe-worthy exploration of what it’s like to be a teenage girl in these social media-centric times. With a title like The Year of Living Awkwardly, the sequel guaranteed more hilarity and awkwardness from teen protagonist Chloe Snow and, as expected, it’s effortlessly entertaining.

Having risen and fallen in spectacular style in the previous book, Chloe Snow returns for her second year of high school after a carefree summer working in the concession stand at the local pool and flirting with her new friend Grady. Through her diary entries, we follow Chloe’s daily life and all the drama it brings. Not only is she still mooning after Mac, the boy who broke her heart and went off to college, but she’s still dealing with the fallout of her parents’ separation, which has now evolved into a nasty divorce.

Throw in an evil queen bee who seems hell-bent on robbing Chloe of her happiness, plenty more boy dilemmas, some uncomfortable family dynamics, and a disappointingly small part in the school musical, and Chloe finds her world slowing imploding. Through all this, she’s still growing, still learning, still making mistakes, and it’s heartening to experience all the highs and lows of her life, with all the raw, unrestrained emotion that comes with it.

“I was mid-detour, racing through the B wing, when I crashed into him as he came out of the bathroom. It was like a scene from a rom-com, if rom-coms were about bumbling, angry teenagers betraying each other.”

If there’s one character who can turn the tiniest embarrassment into a Shakespearean tragedy, it’s Chloe, and reading her diary proves to be just as funny the second time around, if not more. Like most teenagers, she’s wonderfully self-absorbed and lacks the filter that adults develop; her written thoughts are over-the-top, enthusiastic and melodramatic, and it’s impossible not to love all of this about her.

Whether you’re a teenager experiencing the same things as Chloe, or an adult who still vividly remembers the awkwardness of their formative years, there’s so much to relate to in The Year of Living Awkwardly. Life is tough, love is confusing, friendships are fleeting, and things rarely turn out as you think they will. Guess what: it doesn’t change as you get older. Once a teenage disaster, always a teenage disaster.

Anyone looking for an addictive, laugh-out-loud funny and endearingly awkward book will love Chloe Snow’s Diary. Just make sure you read book number one first, for maximum awkwardness.


The Year of Living Awkwardly was published by Simon & Schuster Children’s on 12 July 2018

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