Monday, 9 July 2012

Review: Puberty Blues

Puberty Blues
Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deservedly or otherwise, Puberty Blues is a classic of Australian writing. In some cases it's known because it's notorious - for its portrayal of sex, of gender relationships in a particular place and time, for lifting the lid on gender inequalities and gendered behaviours in the southern beachside suburbs of Sydney in the 1970s.

It's the sort of book that many of my peers read in high school, much closer to the age of the protagonists Debbie and Sue than I am. However, I'm really glad that I didn't read it when I was a teenager, as it would probably have scared me even more about high school, peer pressure, and the travails of adolescence than I already was. Reading it now, I'm still horrified by everything the girls go through; horrified by their acceptance of what the boys put them through, horrified by the boys actions and opinions. Thankful that it bears no resemblance to my own adolescence whatsoever.

I did find myself confused by the point of view at times. I found Debbie and Sue difficult to distinguish, and there were certain switches from first person to third and back again that confounded me.

A further point in relation to the particular edition I read. It's the first British edition, so I don't actually know how I got it at the Pan Macmillan firesale (where I got it for 50c). It has two forewords written by Germaine Greer and Kylie Minogue, who are basically chosen for being fellow Aussies who are well known in Britain (as is one of the co-authors, Kathy Lette).

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