Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for TeensReadToo.com
Susie Day's SERAFINA67 *URGENTLY REQUIRES LIFE* is a hilarious and intimate peek about being a British teenage girl, which besides the weird slang is strikingly familiar to being an American teen. It takes place over approximately four months and is entirely composed of Serafina67's blog and accompanying comments. (Note: There is a glossary in the back with definitions to weird English slang. Don't be like me and discover it after you've finished reading.)
Serafina67 is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her mum and visits her dad on weekends. She has a witch under her skin that makes her act terribly sometimes and has made a resolution to be accomplished on April 22nd (blog starts on Christmas) to be happy. On the way, she is helped and hindered by her real and blog friends, Crazy Pete the therapist, her parents (and their significant others), and, of course, her blog.
It's hard to describe Serafina, because she's very full-fleshed and complicated. She can be bouncing off the walls and wonderfully excited about her VTN (Very Thrilling Novel) at the beginning of one day and feel fat, miserable, and prone to chocolate by mid-afternoon. And even when she's at her lowest, she finds humorous ways to unload it onto her readers. She often summarizes horrible events with hilarious but appropriate imaginary dialogue, but one of my favorite moments is when she doesn't feel up to posting and hence composes a blog post entirely in haiku and her friends comment accordingly.
This book reminded me a lot of Stephen Chbosky's epistolary novel THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, not only because of its content, but also because it feels almost interactive. As I read the posts and the character's reactions, I realized that the format was really cool because it's a mixture between first person (Serafina) and third person (various comments). It was also a neat blur between the privacy of a journal and the public-ness of the Internet. One of Serafina's friends, Georgia Darkly, finds her by Googling "mermaid" and "anorexia."
This is a really fun read and the author, Susie Day, touches on a lot of issues -- I won't call them teen issues, because teens don't have a monopoly on being unhappy even though it sometimes feels like it -- without getting motherly, moral, or "I've-been-there" about it. And I swear that you don't even have to be(en) a teen girl to enjoy it. This book applies to anyone who has ever thought the Parents are crazy, said something they shouldn't have, or just hates their life.