Imagine you had the chance to completely re-invent yourself; to turn yourself from the geekiest, nerdiest girl in the class - the one everyone picks on - into a top fashion model?
But, inevitably, there is a price to pay. Your stepmother hates the idea, you might just lose your lifelong best friend and you kind of forgot to tell your school that you weren’t going to be in for a couple of days.....
This is the premise of Geek Girl, the debut novel by Holly Smale, which is a fictionalised account of her own real-life transformation at the age of 15 from class geek to international model, strutting the catwalks and being photographed wearing clothes from the world’s best known-fashion houses.
Harriet Manners, hard-working, accident-prone, always top of the class and always bullied for it, is dragged to the Clothes Show Live by her best friend Nat, an aspiring model. A series of mishaps find her hiding under a table with gorgeous model Nick, having just been photographed by a talent spotter for a top model agency.
Within the week she is flying to Moscow to take part in a photo shoot and causing a storm in her first (and unrehearsed) catwalk show.
Geek Girl is a classic ugly-duckling-turns-into-a-swan tale. Aimed at readers aged 11 and over it is an entertaining and well-paced story which will resonate in particular with anyone who has been bullied for showing a passing interest in their school work or indeed having an enthusiasm for anything slightly out of the ordinary.
Harriet Manners is, like so many of her literary heroines flawed, kind-hearted and impulsive yet loyal. With help from some unexpected quarters and by using her intelligence Harriet manages to resolve all the scrapes that she has got herself into and to stand up for what she believes in. In the course of Geek Girl she learns many lessons about forgiveness, the meaning of friendship and the importance of family, leading to a well deserved happy ending.
Funny, warm and very entertaining, Geek Girl is an excellent first novel, and a sequel is already being written. Harriet Manners makes a wonderful role model who is refreshingly unself-absorbed and never takes the fashion world too seriously. I shall look forward to hearing about her further adventures, balancing the worlds of high fashion and high academia.
In this video, Holly Smale talks about writing Geek Girl.
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