By Barbara Haworth-Attard

Booktalk


Author of Theories of Relativity, a former Willow Award Nominee.

Theresa is fourteen and has a nack for getting herself into extremely embarrassing situations. We read her thoughts, good, bad and embarrassing when her Mom interrupts her "practicing" in bed with Ken, Barbie's friend, made anatomically correct with black marker. What to do when you are face-to-face with the boy of your dreams and the left side of your air bra deflates with a pop leaving you considerably lop-sided?

Theresa is beginning Grade 10 in high school and desperately aware of her status in the School Class System. She is one of the N's, the Normals - the ordinary kids, careful to do nothing to make themselves stand out. They laugh softly at the right time, wear clothes that blend in with the walls and give up prime seats at the back of classrooms and in the cafeteria for the AN's.

AN's are the Above Normals - a blessed group with perfect breasts, white teeth, shiny hair and BOYFRIENDS who seem to know about fashion trends before the rest of the world.

Then there are the SN's, the Sub-Normals - Theresa is in desperate fear of becoming an SN, those students who stand out with their stooped shoulders, backs hugging the wall, cringing whenever an AN passes, wary of being thrown against a locker or having their books knocked to the floor. According to Theresa, becoming an SN could happen in a moment.

Throughout the novel, told in Chapters from A - Z, we become acquainted with Theresa's family: her understanding but practical Mom, who finds herself at 42 expecting a baby, affectionately referred to by everyone as "Boo-Boo", her shy father who retreats from most social encounters, her wise Maltese grandparents with whom Theresa finds considerable love and support even as she begins to suspect the advancement of Alzheimer's in her grandfather. Then there is Hugo, her annoying older brother who, she is astonished to find, is an AN and Sophie, her older sister who has recently turned into bridezilla as the date for her wedding gets closer. Throw into the mix her BFF Biff, an SN admirerer named Philip complete with briefcase and Operation AAAA (Attract Achingly Adorable Adam) and you get a funny, fast-paced story. Read A is for Angst to see if Theresa gets the boy of her dreams. In the end, does she really want him?