I honestly think author Wendy Harmer could turn her hand to any genre of writing, so delectable is her style – so honest, raw, contemporary, full of the delectable wit she’s famous for – and stacked with just plain fun. In her very first teen novel (read: young adult but totally PG), Harmer embarks on the funnest, coolest teen book I’ve read in ages. No brooding, vampiric, psychotically-driven saga is this – and neither is the book resplendent with inconsequential fluff.
I Lost My Mobile at the Mall: Teenager on the edge of a technological breakdown takes modern teendom and lays it bare like a Facebook profile. The profile picture is of a young girl – the adorable Elly Pickering – who is absolutely, positively certain her life as she knows it is about to cease – either by parternal-, maternal-, BFF-, boyfriend- or self-strangling.
Why? Because she lost her mobile at the mall, that’s why. Derr.
And if losing a mobile at the mall isn’t akin to imminent strangulation, then you just don’t have a teenager skulking around your immediate vicinity, now do you?
What is quite hilarious and also quite frightening about this book is how utterly and totally we rely on the extra-electrical devices that have pervaded our modern day being – not only as a means to communicate, but virtually an extension of who we are. An extension of our very thought processes, our ideas and ideals, our mannerisms, beliefs, predilections.
Imagine having that extension removed in one fell ‘left-bright-yellow-handbag-at-the-beauty-counter-containing-phone-and-all-manner-of-other-teen-life-preservers’ swoop of stupidity. Imagine the threat of being stabbed by your best friend with a pen because you’re now incommunicado. Imagine trying to explain to the love of your fifteen-year-old life that the ring he gave you is now residing in the lost, dark bowels of the shopping-mall unknown.
Saturday. 7 pm. Seven hours PM (post mobile) we learn that Elly really is dead. Dead to the world, anyway – if not literally then most definitely figuratively. As her entire family exists solely on mobile phones and there’s no landline in the house, Elly can at least thank the heavens she still has her laptop and her space on FacePlace. Social leprosy has not completely taken a death hold – but when a minor break-in presses the delete button on her laptop, and the laptop of everyone else in the family… this is only the beginning of her social ostracision.
Will Elly survive a fate worse than bad hair and ugly shoes?
Wendy Harmer has completely nailed the crazy world of teen angst, drama and hilarity in I Lost My Mobile at the Mall. It’s clear the author has lived through the trials and tribulations of teenhood – not once but twice… with her own children – and she parlays the actions and reactions through both her teen and adult characters perfectly.
Written with a deft and humorous hand, this novel will not only have heads all over Australia nodding and smirking in recognition, there may even be the odd emotional sigh (maybe even the peep of a tear in an eyeball trough) as Elly quickly comes to terms with life pre-electronic device. When this very likable teen discovers handwritten love letters (people actually wrote letters once??) via a renewed and tender relationship with her Nan, an entirely new world opens Elly’s eyes (and her heart) to a more romantic time – when human connection was far more face-to-face than HAITWOSMS (hopelessly abridged in the world of SMS).
I enjoyed this book so much – I can’t imagine how much fun teenagers would have reading it. The focus on friendship and love interests is real and emotionally satisfying, and the gentle plot twists and personal realisations (on love, friendship and technology) made by the main characters gives the book deep charm.
The moral ethos contained in the book’s warm pages is not at all smack-in-your-face nor preachy – it instead just tweaks the brain a little and the heart a lot – and makes for a contemporary and timely read – ironically, a read that could easily be whizzed through in a day. Not, happily, due to scant content, but rather due to your inability to put it down.
So, Elly may learn some heartfelt life lessons in this wonderful teen novel, but does she become converted to a more simple life? Or does she eventually re-enter the high tech world of snappy teen communiqué? Well, what do you reckon?