Book Reviews

Book review: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

adrian mole2The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend (QUICK READS 823.91) was first published in 1982 and has remained popular ever since. Adrian is a teenager who believes that he is an undiscovered intellectual and writes terrible poetry to the love of his life, Pandora.

His struggles with love, family and growing up are hilarious and poignant and Townsend writes about them with a knowing smile. Many readers identify with Adrian’s uncertainty and frustration, especially as he is torn between his desire to prove how unique he is in a world of drab grey and his suspicion that, deep down, he may not be very special at all.

Considering Adrian Mole first appeared more than thirty years ago, it’s remarkable that he has continued to be so popular, both in print and in the TV adaptations made by the BBC. While those who grew up with Adrian are enjoying the books about Adrian as an adult, generations of readers since have discovered and enjoyed The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾.

Townsend died earlier this year, but the obituaries and articles about her showed how many people grew up with Adrian Mole. His trials and tribulations are funny and embarrassing, as we remember the many times we’ve thought or said similar things. However, Townsend is never cruel with her comedy and it’s easy to forgive Adrian his flaws.

sue townsend
Sue Townsend

Townsend was a staunch socialist and suffered through crippling poverty in the 1980’s, when Margaret Thatcher was in power. While Adrian’s family is much less affected by the welfare cutbacks and mass unemployment of the 1980’s than Townsend herself, there is a definite vein of cutting political commentary running through Adrian’s life, even as a teenager. However, in the face of the 2008 economic downturn, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ seems as relevant as it was when Townsend wrote it.

Townsend wrote eight books in the Adrian Mole series and was working on a ninth when she died. Her saga took Adrian from the age of 13 ¾ to the age of 39 ¼ and chronicled British life humorously from 1982-2007. Her unique style of wit will be missed by many, but her books will continue to delight readers for generations to come.

If you liked The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

Have it read to you instead! Borrow the audiobook of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, read by Nicholas Barnes (BOOK ZONE 823.91).

Try Townsend’s The Queen and I (BOOK ZONE 823.91), about what happens when the Royal Family is sent to live on a council estate. Hilarious and satirical at once.

Read Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (BOOK ZONE 823.91), a similarly funny story of embarrassing teenage crushes, friendships and families.


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