Withering Tights, by Louise Rennison

Although Withering Tights is written for teens, a lot of adults, remembering their teenage years, are going to find it very funny as well. Tallulah Casey, whose legs, she claims, are eight feet long (or at least it feels that way when she has to stand up in front of everyone) enrols in a summer performing arts school in Yorkshire, looking forward to a period of freedom from her family and a chance to redefine herself. Unfortunately, she does so, in a moment of panic, by breaking out in Irish step-dancing when called upon to “improvise a movement” to go with her description of herself, which results in a little collateral damage to bystanders. That sets the tone for her rather accident-prone career at Dother Hall. Between friends, bras, boys, and the über-artistic teachers, one hilarious incident follows hard on the heels of another. The core of the plot is a production of a comic, singing and dancing adaptation of Wuthering Heights, a little tension over various boys, and Tallulah’s anxiety as to whether or not she will get to return for a second term at the school, but the book is primarily carried by the narrator’s personality. Tallulah is funny, naive and self-reflective at once, while her friends are kind, funny, and reassuringly bright and quirky. This is a difficult book to read without chuckling aloud from time to time.

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