Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.
As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.
And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?
I found all of the characters in this book really easy to get to know and identify with. Harriet on the surface seems like a kind of loveable fool, and although sometimes I did find her foolish was grating on me now and then, I reminded myself that she is a teenager and therefore is bound to be making these kind of errors in her quest for acceptance. Once I got over this fact, I loved taking the journey with her. Her friend Nat and Toby both have really individual personalities which I really liked, as did her Dad and stepmom Annabel. The character of Wilbur 'bur not iam' had me laughing out loud at several parts in the book (very embarrassing on a busy tube) and I think he must have been so fun to write because he is so crazy and out there! His pet names for people are just hilarious and make him impossible to dislike.
I also thought the structure of the book was really good. It all takes place as thought you are in Harriet's head, I always think that things in the first person allow the reader to participate more in the story, and this is no exception. It also meant that this was a really quick read. You were living every moment of the novel through Harriet and so there was no need for any asides to check how she was feeling you knew straight away, and with such a strong voice, she carried her tale well. The chapters were very short and so the reader will definitely find themselves falling into the 'one more chapter' trap as they are reading this, but meant that a tale dealing with the serious issue of bullying, friendship and self-esteem seems much more light hearted than it actually is, a good thing!
All in all this was a really enjoyable, easy read which had me laughing out loud at several points and yet covered these serious issues with great care and sensitivity. I think it is a great to have a book out there which stands up for people's individuality, whatever that might be, and I find it incredibly refreshing to find a book for young people which asserts that fact that it is ok to be a geek! This is a great debut novel from this author and most readers will enjoy every moment form start to finish. I honestly cannot wait for the sequel!