The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
by Sue Townsend
It is 1981, the dawn of the eighties, that rich decade of pageantry, pomp and circumstance. Margaret Thatcher, the U.K.'s first female prime minister, is in office. The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer is televised and viewed by 750 million people. Abba is still cranking out the hits. My daughter is born, and Adrian Mole begins recording the day-to-day travails of his agonizing adolescence in Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4.
Adrian Mole, sprouting spots and a bad teenage mustache, pines for the lovely Pandora, about whom he writes poems, poems that he submits to--but are rejected by--the BBC. When Adrian isn't writing poetry, he's doing household chores, caring for an elderly neighbor, or delivering papers to raise money to pay the school bully. Adrian's newly liberated mother is too busy finding herself to clean house: She has taken a job, is reading feminist literature, and is keeping company with Mr. Lucas, a divorced neighbor. His stodgy father is in a fog: He fusses over his car, goes fishing, and fist fights with Mr. Lucas. Adrian's grandmother has gone around the bend as well: She has joined the spiritualist church and communes with Adrian's grandfather...dead for four years.
First published in 1982, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 still engages middle-school readers, who empathize with and enjoy the adventures of Adrian. For those who can't get enough of Adrian Mole's angst, there are eight more books in the Adrian Mole series. I'm currently reading the second in the series: The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.