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When Edie moves up to Manchester and starts college she's a little scared - scared to be in a new town with new people, and none of her old friends. But then she meets a trouser-shape by the name of Dylan and everything changes. She develops a huge crush on the handsome but complicated boy, and chronicles her feelings for him in her diary. Well that explains the title, then.
This is not a simple, boy meets girl story. There are lots of obstacles in the way, not least the fact that while Edie is swooning over Dylan, he barely seems to register that she's around. Others at college seem determined to keep them apart, and while it's only a couple of years, the age difference between the two of them is significant. A field trip to France offers opportunities for things to go further, but also opportunities for it all to go horribly wrong. And as romantic as Paris can be for a couple, it can also be a horribly depressing place to be single. As someone off to the city in question next week, this book got me excited about my trip again, as it does give you a feel for the city (back in the UK, there is no reference at all to Edie's new base of Manchester which was a shame - so few books are set here, that I always like the ones that are).
This is a re-issue of a book that actually started life as a magazine column, and then as a giveaway novella with said magazine. Back when I was just 14 or just 15, I used to read Just 17 (aka J17), because that's how things worked. I also used to read 19, but then I was a rebel like that. I remember Diary of a Crush from the first time round, and I must have read the books to death because sections of this one came back to me word for word.
Some books you read as a teen make you cringe when your return to them as an adult, but this is not one of those. While it has been updated somewhat, to reflect current trends (celebrity crushes, social media), the core story is the same, and I loved it as much today as I did way back when. There's something universally relatable about harbouring feelings for someone who seems out of reach, be it a famous face, a teacher or the boy in the year above, and I think that's what makes these stories so popular. Edie is a nice girl, and a good narrator. The story moves swiftly on, and her voice is light, bubbly and well suited for a diary format.
As the first in a trilogy about Edie and Dylan's on-again/off-again relationship, there's lots more of the story to come for fans. The crush may develop into something more on the surface, but deep down Edie's still the little girl whose stomach flips over at the sight of the boy who can make kissing the most exciting activity in the world.
Out now in this new, paperback release and on Kindle
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
About the book
Diary of a Crush: French Kiss was first serialised in teen magazine J17. It was first published as a book in 2004 and then repackaged on 30th May 2013 by Atom. The book is 240 pages long and is the first in a trilogy.
Edie has just moved to a new town, started at a new college and has to deal with a whole range of new people. Her first few weeks don't go very well at all as she makes no friends and feels like a complete loner. Then Edie spots messy haired but extremely gorgeous Dylan and he changes her life. He becomes the hot topic in her diary even if she hasn't actually gotten the courage to speak to him.
Things take an interesting turn when Edie ends up in Dylan's photography class and then on a college trip to Paris. Dylan has a reputation for being a player and a heartbreaker but Edie is determined to get him anyway. Will the romantic setting of Paris be just what he needs to snag the guy of her dreams?
What I thought
After absolutely loving other Sarra Manning books such as Adorkable and Nobody's Girl, I will read anything she has published now. Whilst I never read this series when it was in J17 magazine, I had heard nothing but good things about it and was dying to read it. Manning has slightly updated this series from when it was first published to make some pop culture references more up to date and current.
As this was something that was first in a magazine, the diary format works really well. I can see how well this would have worked in each issue and as the diary entries all vary in length, it would have made for easy and quick reading. This also works in a book format as well because it means you're never having to wait ages for the end of a chapter if you need to put it down. Instead, you can stop at the end of a diary entry and pick it up again easily. I also found the diary format to give the writing an edge as it was fast paced and punchy.
Diary of a Crush: French Kiss follows Edie and her move to a new home. She finds it difficult at first to fit in at college and seriously misses her old friends back home. Edie is one of those characters who I fell in love with straight away. She's quirky, different and has a fabulous dress sense. She wears what she wants, even if it means a posh looking dress with her favourite converse. At 16, I definitely wasn't that sure about what I wanted to wear and how I wanted to be portrayed. I think 16 is also a scary age to move and to have to start over again but I think Edie coped pretty well.
The friends she does make at college though are older than her. At 19, they have more life experience, have had more relationships etc and have more maturity (at times anyway). Dylan is the brooding bad boy who everyone seems to love. Dylan's behaviour gave Edie every single reason to be angsty over him. One minute he seems to want her, the next he doesn't and then he does again. What a way to mess with a girl's head, especially one three years younger and with very little experience. This book gets the idea of mixed signals spot on and I was thinking does he/ doesn't he the whole way through. As annoying as Dylan was though, I did love him a little bit. It was clear did he did like Edie but was just torn about what the best thing to do was.
Secondary characters also help to show the kinds of relationships and friendships teenagers have. Some of the funniest moments were between Edie, Mia and Shona. I remember having bitchy fights with my friends as a teenager and these scenes made me think back to these times. These characters also made me think about the boyfriend swapping, boy drama and going behind other people's backs in order to get what you wanted. Being a teenager was so dramatic. Manning gets the voice of a teenager perfectly right too, honing in on all of the emotions that can be felt and the mood swings which are inevitable.
The additional setting of Paris made this book even more perfect for me. I remember going away on both a school trip to Germany and then a college trip to Prague and this book brought back so many memories. The trip is what helped to really explore the relationship between Edie and Dylan. Before the trip, the pair had been having a very informal kind of fling, with random kissing going on. Edie wants more but Dylan seems quite happy with what they have. There isn't much actual talking before the trip to Paris so it was nice to see the pair on a deeper level.
Diary of a Crush: French Kiss is a wonderful book about teenagers and one that is very entertaining. I can't wait to read the other two books in the trilogy.