Tallulah Casey is spending the summer at a performing arts school in Yorkshire (described in its brochure as like “Wuthering Heights but with more acting and dancing and less freezing to death on the moors!!”). Hence, Withering Tights. At 14, Tallulah’s looking forward to making new friends, finding her talents (spontaneous attacks of Riverdance are a talent, right?) and having unfettered access to boys, but the summer has even bigger things in store. Like baby owls hatching, performance art aplenty—including a female Heathcliff—a small fire in the dorms . . . and a lot of access to boys. Oh, and a handy glossary, so American readers can tell a “noddy niddy noddy” from a “nunga nunga” (a crucial distinction).
Fans of author Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson series will be tickled to find Georgia in a sort of cameo here, and the glossary, eccentric adults (and toddlers!), animal characters and beaucoup de boy drama are virtually Rennison’s trademark. But Withering Tights departs from the other series with Tallulah herself; instead of Georgia’s hilarious self-involvement, this series is anchored by someone who wears her insecurities front and center, like her nobbly knees. Her parents are traveling constantly; her father’s idea of a helpful talk on growing up was to give her a James Bond novel and call it a day. As a result, she’s kind and appreciative of those around her and quickly forms familial bonds. Rennison hasn’t changed too much, though: Like Georgia’s diaries, Tallulah’s story is a laugh-out-loud winner, chock full of Irish jigs and the occasional sheep’s bladder. Start here, and be glad nothing’s neatly resolved at the end, because there’s more to look forward to in the series!