Title: Withering Tights (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey)
Author: Louise Rennison
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2011
Tallulah Casey is off to the Yorkshire Dales for a summer college course at Dother Hall, a performing arts school. She goes for a laugh and to escape her brother's butterfly sandwiches, as she has never really had much experience performing and has very knobby knees that are too high on her legs. But she's surprised to find that she quite enjoys it there, and with her new friends and a number of boys around, thanks to nearby Woolfe Hall and the village of Heckmondshire, she hopes she can pass the summer course so she can return. She hopes the end-of-summer performance of Wuthering Heights, inspired by their location in the English moors, will be her ticket.
Withering Tights has no real coherent storyline or plot aside from Tallulah making it through the summer, but that doesn't really matter. That will only affect you if you do no like the funny, because Louise Rennison is hilarious. The wit in this book is sharp and delicious (I realize that also can describe cheddar but bear with me). I found myself laughing out loud a lot—Rennison's comedic timing is often perfect.
The setting was great, especially if you're an Anglophile. Rennison doesn't shy away from using English slang, and she adds a helpful (and also very funny) glossary at the back of the book. I love the words she uses; it adds so much to the book as a whole, and it probably wouldn't be as funny without the language.
Like I said, there's no real storyline, Tallulah just chronicles the summer. Of course, characters and little subplots are followed, like Ruby and the baby owls ("hooray!") and Tallulah's encounters with at least four boys (there is a lot of boy stuff, but it's more like Tallulah is just trying to figure out how to deal with them, since she's only 14). And speaking of characters, I don't think there is a dull one in the bunch. Every character is individualized, and some might be described as "normal," but in here that term is relative. The only one I really dislike is Cain, for reasons you will all realize if you read it, but I have a feeling he'll play a pretty big part in the following books in the series.
I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the Misadventures of Tallulah Casey series. I found that I'm more fond of Tallulah than I ever was of Georgia Nicholson, though I do like those books too. And side note: Georgia is Tallulah's cousin. Maybe we'll see a cameo later on!
Disclosure: I won an ARC of this title from Steph Su (thanks Steph!).