Book Title: The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole
Book Genre: Novel presented through the form of a diary of a teenage boy called Adrian Mole
Author: Sue Townsend
A. PSYCHIC BOOK REPORT:
What I expect this book is about / will contain: As the title itself implies, this is a secret diary of the person named Adrian Mole. I expect to read some of his personal thoughts, beliefs and secrets. I assume that the book contains short notes about the boy’s every day activities, how the main character feels while doing them and what are the consequences of the actions taken by him.
I think that the diary format of this novel makes it very easy to read and understand. The dates written in the diary give us a clear idea of when exactly the action happened, where and who are the people to take part in certain activities.
B. NOTE ON THE AUTHOR: Susan Lillian Townsend is the creator of Britain’s best loved and bestselling diarist, Adrian Mole. She was born on 2nd April 1946 in Leicester and went to Glen Hills Primary School. She is an English novelist, playwright screenwriter and columnist, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole books. Her father was a postman and she was the eldest of five sisters. After failing her 11-plus exam, Townsend then went to the secondary modern South Wigston High School. She left school at the age of 15 and worked in a variety of jobs including factory worker and shop assistant. She married a sheet-metal worker and had three children by the time she was 22. She joined a writers’ group at the Phoenix Theater, Leicester in her thirties. She has four children: Sean, Daniel, Victoria and Elizabeth. At the time of writing the first Adrian Mole book, Townsend was living on the Saffron Lane Estate. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole was reputedly based on her children’s experiences at Mary Linwood Comprehensive School in Leicester. Several of the teachers who appear in the book are based on actual staff who worked at the school in the early 1980 s. When the book was filmed, it was mostly filmed at a different school nearby. Mary Linwood Comprehensive was closed in 1997. The first two published stories appeared in a short-lived arts journal entitled simply magazine, the editing and production of which Townsend was involved. The first two books in the series appealed to many readers as a realistic and humorous treatment of the inner life of an adolescent boy. Townsend has suffered from diabetes for many years, as a result of which she was registered blind in 2001, and has woven this theme into her work. For her work she has been presented with several awards. On February 25, 2009, Leicester City Council announced that Townsend will be given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester. She is married and has four children and five grandchildren and still lives in Leicester.
C. POINT OF VIEW: Teenagers will always be teenagers. All of them have school and love problems, as well as problems with their parents. Although the book was originally written in 1982, ten years before I was even born, all the ideas and feelings in the book are still valid today.
D. TONE: ( How does the author feel toward her subject, her protagonist or perhaps even her audience? )
The author has made this book enjoyable and easy to read and understand. Through Adrian Mole she addresses all the teenagers in the world by telling them that this period of growing up and becoming mature could be difficult, yet interesting and funny.
1. TIME: (When is the book set? What characterized the time in question? )
The book is set in the 1980’s. The references to the Royal Wedding, Abba, Punks and Margaret Thatcher may be confusing to some younger readers. It makes you realize how little things change. The Sun, bad city schools, spots, school plays and Marmite are all part of everyday British life and will probably always be with us. One thing I would say is that there are so many references to uniquely British objects in this book that overseas readers might get confused. There are numerous references to PE shorts, Marmite, Spotted Dick, the Sunday Mirror, the RSPCA and so on.
2. PLACE: (What locations are included in the book? )
When we start reading the book, the first place we’re introduced to is Adrian’s house. According to him, the house where he lives has two floors. On the first floor there is the kitchen, where Adrian cooked a meal when both of his parents were ill. Apparently, the bedrooms are upstairs, because he said that he had to run upstairs and downstairs all day long to help them recover. There’s a small garden where the dog usually runs away. The house has a front door and a back door where Mr. Lucas ran away from. There is another house next to Adrian’s house. It’s Mr. and Mrs. Lucas’s house with a garden. The second location that Adrian takes us to is his school. It’s got a school dining room where the students have their lunch during break. Students had to wait in lines in order to get their meal. Next to describe is the old house of Bert Baxter. It is not clean and it smells horribly because of the fact that Bert Baxter smokes and drinks a lot. When Adrian gets the job of delivering newspapers, he gave a short description of the street where the wealthy people lived. He said that the houses were very big. The name of the street was Elm Tree Avenue. It was the street where Pandora lived with her family. Finally, the whole action in the book takes place in the city of Leicester, situated in the East Midlands of England. It is one of the oldest cities in England.
F. SHORT PLOT SUMMARY:
13 year old Adrian starts his diary on January 1st in the early 80’s. He writes an entry every day for nearly two years. He reflects on his school, his unrequited love (Pandora Baithwaite), and his parents (including his hilariously awful feminist mother). Adrian decides that he is an «undiscovered intellectual» and tries desperately to improve his brain by reading as many books as he can. He usually misses the point in all the books he reads but is confident about his wrong assertions. Here lies the some of the humor – we see the world through Adrian’s eyes and we can understand what is really going on between his mother and Mr «Creep» Lucus. But Adrian doesn’t quite understand it all yet. You feel so sorry for Adrian when his parents argue or when he is bullied, but the next laugh is always just round the corner.
This book is very effective at communicating the confusion that adolescence can often be. It is also hugely touching.
Turning point – Adrian’s thought of having a better life and the thought that he deserves better life than the life he lives now. He realised that it was high time for his father to find a job, to be well paid and to increase Adrian’s pocket money.
Resolutions / Outcomes?
First of all Adrian promised to help the poor, so collected some old comics and brought them to a boy who lived nearby. Then he promised not to squeeze his spots, but he didn’t really keep his promise. He didn’t fulfill his resolution about drinking alcohol, because he drank whisky while he was staying at Nigel’s house. Adrian said that he wouldn’t try smoking and this is one of the resolutions that he stuck to.
G. CHARACTERS: ( complete descriptions of the main characters in the book, including appearance, personality, relationships which help define the character, as well as the character’s progress and/or transformation through the course of the book)
1. Adrian Mole is a teenage boy who is 13 ¾ years old at the beginning of the book. Being a teenage boy, he isn’t very sociable and talkative as girls at that age. Since he doesn’t speak about his problems, he decides to keep a diary, where he will write everything that happens to him. He starts his diary with a several new resolutions for the New Year because he wants to be a new and a good person. His life situation is very bad because his parents don’t pay attention on him and because they’re always arguing. He thinks that he has spots on his face and that one particular spot is growing very big, because his mother doesn’t know anything about vitamins, and his diet is very poor. I think that he should have more attention from his parents, especially from his mother. We always understand and feel for Adrian’s emotional problems and the physical changes he goes through. Adrian is like any other teenager – he has spots and he reads pornography. Adrian use to be alone and he has to be more sociable, he should have someone that really loves him and takes care of him too. The relationship between Adrian’s parents is really bad. They’re arguing all the time. At school, a new girl called Pandora has arrived and he thinks that he has fallen in love with her. She sits next to him in Geography classes and he soon realizes he has feelings for her. They have a love relationship, but Pandora thought it was very serious so they decided to slow down a bit. However the most embarrassing of all situations for Adrian was when he was building his model aeroplane. He decided to try an experimental sniff of the glue, he smelled the glue and his nose stuck to the plane. Adrian’s father took Adrian to hospital and everyone laughed at him. No matter what happened to him, he remained a decent and kind person.
2. Character 2
Pandora is Adrian Mole’s beautiful, treacle-haired first girlfriend and lifelong obsession. Pandora is the girl Adrian fells in love with. She sits next to Adrian in Geography classes and she likes being called Box. «Box» has got long hair the color of the treacle and she has a good figure. She lives on Elm Tree Street and has a horse that she likes to ride. Pandora thinks that Adrian’s father is a racist because when an Indian family moved into the Lucas’ old house his father said it was `the beginning of the end of their street’. She didn’t buy a present to Adrian for his birthday. She said she had given all her money to a poor man. She smokes five cigarettes a day, but Adrian doesn’t really mind that because he’s in love with her. When Adrian asks her to make love to him she said refused him saying that she didn’t want to be a single parent to her children, so they stopped seeing each other for a while.
3. Character 3
Bert Baxter is an old person Adrian cares for. He smokes, drinks and has a big dog called Sabre. Adrian thinks that he isn’t a nice old man, because of his constant complaints about everything. He’s a filthy 89-year-old communist who has sworn not to die until capitalism is destroyed; eventually becoming the oldest man in Leicester. Lives on beetroot sandwiches, Vesta curry and brown ale, and speaks fluent Hindi. Once, Bert Baxter phoned Adrian’s school because he had lost his artificial teeth which have a sentimental value from him as they were given to him by his father. Adrian becomes his toe-nail cutter, bottle washer and friend. Bert has a new girlfriend called Queenie and they have got married. They are moving into a new house and their honeymoon will be in the old people’s home.
4. Character 4
Nigel is Adrian’s life-long best friend, a cynical observer of his suffering over the years. Nigel’s big house and big room as well as the things he possesses are a constant reminder to the young Adrian of his relative poverty and parental neglect. After spending a weekend at Nigel’s house, Adrian thought that this particular weekend with Nigel had opened his eyes: he had lived in poverty for 14 years; he lived in a horrible house, ate terrible food and didn’t get enough pocket money. He thought his father would have to look for a better job. Nigel has got a new bike with a lot of gadgets and at one point Adrian said that if he had to choose between Pandora and Nigel’s bike, he would definitely choose Nigel’s bike. Adrian told him about his love for Pandora, but he only took an advantage of that fact. Nigel first became Pandora’s boyfriend and ruined the friendly relationship between himself and Adrian.
5. Character 5
George Mole is Adrian’s father. His many episodes of hospitalization, arguments, depression and unemployment have taken their toll. Adrian’s father and mother are separating because Adrian’s mother was cheating his husband with Mr. Lucas. Once, when Adrian’s father went fishing, Mr Lucas went to Adrian’s house for dinner. He ate three pieces of his father’s favorite cake. Then, when his father arrived home and came in the front door, Mr Lucas went out the back door. There was no cake left for Adrian’s father, and his mother gave him a cheese sandwich for his supper. His father threw it at the wall and said he wasn’t a mouse, he was a man. After this big raw, when Adrian’s father knew that Adrian’s mother was going to Sheffield with Mr. Lucas, Adrian’s father got angry and then, he fought with Mr. Lucas in the front garden. Despite their many tribulations he still loves Pauline Mole. He’s more than happy when he finds out that she is coming back to him.
H. ASSOCIATIONS: ( Ideas, situations, or characters that remind you of other texts you have read )
1. Connection: «Brigit Jones’s Diary» by Helen Fielding to «The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole»
Commentary: Brigit Jones is a 30 and something years old single women who I find similar to Adrian Mole because she also has a diary and she has her own resolutions (as well as Adrian ). Her resolutions are: to lose 7 pounds, to stop smoking and to develop Inner Poise.
Commentary: The other thing why I find these two books and characters similar is the way both Brigit and Adrian write about things – in a funny way, full of self-improvement thoughts and self-awareness. Also the fact that just like every teenage boy can find himself in the head of Adrian, in the same way every woman can find herself dealing with the same problems that Brigit deals with.
2. Connection: «Diary of a Wimpy Kid» by Jeff Kinney to «The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole»
Commentary: Greg Heffler is a middle-school boy that deals with almost the same problems as Adrian Mole. They both write about the advantages and disadvantages of growing up.
Commentary: Both books have humor in them and both are very easy to read and are meant for the same type of readers – mainly teenagers who find themselves in the same situations like the main characters in both of the books.
I. CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE BOOK:
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ is the first book in the Adrian Mole series of comedic fiction, written by Sue Townsend. I liked this book a lot. It has a strong sense of humor which is my favorite category of book, it also was written in a diary style which I really enjoy. It used simple grammar so it was really easy to read and follow. It was like you were in the head of an adolescent boy. It’s a very lighthearted story told through the diary entries of a British boy who considers himself a misunderstood intellectual. The sad topics (parent separation, unemployment, old age, etc.) are filtered though the eyes of a narrator who isn’t always aware of what’s really going on.
I would recommend this book to anyone. The diary format makes it very easy to read, but there is also a great deal of depth and thought to the book. There are so many memorable and funny characters in this book. There are also so many great moments. The book is sensitive but also deeply funny. When you finish this book you’ll want to read the other volumes of Adrian’s Diary.
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