Here comes a novel that superbly deals with the most sensational topic of daily bread and butter among the teenagers across the world. Jenny Mclachlan portrays the ‘teenage reverie’ in the most lucid way in her novel “LOVE BOMB” which counts as the second novel of her ‘The Ladybirds’ series. The issues of young adult fantasy, love, heartbreak and friendship impart this book a wide connectivity among the young readers. Jenny as an author of this chick lit has caught the pulse of the teenagers.
Shakespeare quotes in his play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’;
“Cupid is a knavish, thus to make females mad”.
And when the female is a girl of fifteen years old, then the love can explode like a bomb thudding the heart with full pace.
Jenny’s protagonist is a teenage girl of fifteen named Betty Plum whose heart is electrocuted the time she encounters a supernaturally hot boy (classmate-to-be) in her school named Tobias Gray. It seems cupid has ricocheted thousands of arrows at Betty’s heart. That just happens in the first few pages of the story evoking,
‘epic sexual tension in the air’
Betty devises plan after plan to woo Toby.
Betty’s friend circle is constituted of Kate, Bea and Bill where Kate and Bea are her classmates and Bill is her growing-up-together-since-childhood sort of friend. Betty confides in all her secrets to her friends, even about her latest crush and the problems associated with it. With the passage of time she becomes so obsessed with her crush that she starts ignoring everybody. She feels it quite fair to hurt her friends if the end prize is Toby. Of course she feels bad but washes this feeling away immediately after.
Jenny Mclachlan’s pen impregnate two most sensible characters in the novel, Bill being the one and Rue the other. Bill shifts his role from being Betty’s true friend to her counsellor to a healer of her emotional wounds. The most rejuvenating part in the narrative is Bill’s love lyrics through which he resolves Betty’s love conflicts. Betty is in a great fix as to whether Toby feels the same passion towards her. However, Toby’s special invitation to Betty in his young adults party seems to be a positive sign. What happens at the party? Do they come close? Will the party be proved a step ahead towards their relation or the ultimate end? Is there any secret behind Bill’s love lyrics? Readers need to find out. Moreover, it is relevant to see how Rue breaks all the stereotypes that has always been assigned with the notion of a stepmother.
Indeed, as a reader of this novel, I am more concerned about the bigger issues that it hits across. On the surface where the narrative is intoxicated with love potions, on a much deeper level it deals with the psychology of a child who has lost her mother at a tender age of two. Betty as a child has always been deprived of motherly love and even seems to loose her rocking relation with her father after Rue’s sudden entry into her father’s life. Betty lives in continuous fear; the fear of being abandoned, the fear of becoming stranger in her own house and mostly the fear of the living in the scarcity of love. Naturally, she tries to grab love from every possible source, mostly from Toby. Readers can sense the intense struggle she is fighting from within when she says,
‘Even thinking of Toby doesn’t cheer me up’
and where she speaks her mind up saying,
‘It is true when I say I don’t miss my mum. How could I? I can’t remember anything about her. But sometimes I feel as if something is missing from my life.’
Amidst these crisis comes the secret letters written by Betty’s mother that had been kept hidden in the attic. A token of motherly love and compassion, these letters are the most exciting part of the entire narrative. Prejudiced and confused Betty gets all her answers and wise suggestions about first kiss, love and what a true relation is all about. What is there in those letters? Would fragile Betty act sensibly after reading her mum’s letters? Would she be able to reduce the growing aloofness from her father? The narrative unwraps these questions.
“Love Bomb” begins as a story of teenage dream that at the end advances into the coming-of-age novel. It is quite appropriate to admit that the novel marks its victory by showing the dichotomy between passion and sensibility. It warns its young readers against resorting to their passion slavishly. Jenny lessens the vulnerability of the teenagers by giving her teens the power to think and act rationally, responsibly and objectively. This warm and refreshing story Jenny handles with great calmness both in matter and manner. No doubt, “Love Bomb” is efficient enough to produce enthralling effect on readers, particularly on teenagers.
Reviewed by Prity Barnwal
Prity is a scholar of English Language & Literature. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org