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Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent
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Diary of a Chav

by Grace Dent

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Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

Originally published in Great Britain as TRAINERS VS. TIARAS, Grace Dent has crossed the Atlantic and now we are able to enjoy the rich adventures of Shiraz Bailey Wood.

Meet Shiraz. Most of the folks in her small town think she is a "chav." And if you're like me, you're wondering what in the world is a "chav" right? Fortunately, Ms. Dent supplies us poor American folk a glossary at the back of the book. A "chav" is a poor working class person in Britain. My first thought was, "OK, so this would be similar to our term trailer trash." I wasn't wrong! For in the definition Ms. Dent provides, she claims that being called a chav is a bit like calling someone trailer trash. So, having that out of the way, you can get the gist of the tone of the story.

Poor Shiraz is faced with the derogatory definition throughout the book. It starts off at Christmas time where she complains that she gets knock off trainers (sneakers for us Americans!) and a diary. She can't believe her grandma would even think of giving HER a diary. Is she nuts? But as the story unfolds, Shiraz comes to write down everything that happens over the course of the next year.

The diary format has been used before, that's nothing new. We've seen it THE PRINCESS DIARIES, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and the Louise Rennison novels. But what makes DIARY OF A CHAV stand out is the unique way Ms. Dent has Shiraz tell her story.

Shiraz is a loudmouth and doesn't want to stand out at school. But when a new English teacher shows up and sees something in Shiraz, Shiraz finally starts to contemplate if there is more to life than just earning money at a job. Her year at school does a two-week work stint, and while working at a mind-numbingly boring job at a packing plant, Shiraz decides she will try to do the work at school.

While dealing with school, Shiraz also has troubles at home to deal with. Her mom and older sister are at odds and, to solve the problem, Shiraz writes to a Jerry Springer type show for help. Airing their dirty laundry on TV doesn't turn out the way Shiraz expects it to.

And to top all that off, her best friend, Carrie, has ditched her for her exciting new boyfriend, Bezzie. Shiraz doesn't think Bezzie is all that, but Carrie can't see beyond having such a grand guy, and the friendship starts to suffer.

For those expecting a book to flow elegantly and gracefully, DIARY OF A CHAV isn't that book. But if you're looking for a brutally honest look at the life of the teenager in working class England, this is your book. Shiraz is a breath of fresh air. She may irritate you at times with her disregard for authority, but in the end, she does choose the right path and you want to cheer for her when she does!

For more adventures of Shiraz, look for POSH AND PREJUDICE (SLING THE BLING in Great Britain) due out in June 2009. For those of you that absolutely can not wait, you can get your hands on this and more in the series from Great Britain. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
I was laughing my ass off the entire time I read this novel! Shiraz is a very lovable character. I wasn’t sure about this book at first. First off I had idea what a Chav was, and the cover scared me a little.... But once I started reading I was sucked into to Shiraz’s voice. The novel consists of journal entries. Think Sloppy first, British style. I may not have understood everything she was saying (thankfully there was an English dictionary for all the American cousins) but the girl is bloody brilliant! Some of my favorites:Baps: (n.) boobs. Also boobies, breasts, blouse potatoes.Fangita-eater: (n.) this is a pretty, erm, rude word for a girl who things other girls are hot and doesn’t fancy boys.Knob: (n.) a boys penis. But it’s also an insult too. “Stop being a knob!”Marmite: (n.) brown yeast extract spread that British people have on toast, which to an American person who isn’t used to it will taste like Satan’s jockstrap. Up the duff: (adj.) pregnant, knocked up, in the pudding club.Despite what you would initially think, Shiraz is very smart. And unfortunately it isn’t something that her environment encourages. Her mother seems to think that a rich husband is the way that Shiraz needs to go. Which is very sad. But while reading the novel you’ll soon learn that Shiraz is not the type of girl to settle down with a rich husband, she has a mind of her own. She has typical teenage problems. Figuring what to do with your life, working through friendships, problems with boys, it’s all in there and humorously done. While this novel lacks elegance and grace... if your looking for brutally honest, this just might be your ticket. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Shiraz’s voice. ( )
  the_story_siren | Jul 2, 2009 |
I was laughing my ass off the entire time I read this novel! Shiraz is a very lovable character. I wasn’t sure about this book at first. First off I had idea what a Chav was, and the cover scared me a little.... But once I started reading I was sucked into to Shiraz’s voice. The novel consists of journal entries. Think Sloppy first, British style. I may not have understood everything she was saying (thankfully there was an English dictionary for all the American cousins) but the girl is bloody brilliant! Some of my favorites:Baps: (n.) boobs. Also boobies, breasts, blouse potatoes.Fangita-eater: (n.) this is a pretty, erm, rude word for a girl who things other girls are hot and doesn’t fancy boys.Knob: (n.) a boys penis. But it’s also an insult too. “Stop being a knob!”Marmite: (n.) brown yeast extract spread that British people have on toast, which to an American person who isn’t used to it will taste like Satan’s jockstrap. Up the duff: (adj.) pregnant, knocked up, in the pudding club.Despite what you would initially think, Shiraz is very smart. And unfortunately it isn’t something that her environment encourages. Her mother seems to think that a rich husband is the way that Shiraz needs to go. Which is very sad. But while reading the novel you’ll soon learn that Shiraz is not the type of girl to settle down with a rich husband, she has a mind of her own. She has typical teenage problems. Figuring what to do with your life, working through friendships, problems with boys, it’s all in there and humorously done. While this novel lacks elegance and grace... if your looking for brutally honest, this just might be your ticket. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Shiraz’s voice. ( )
  the_story_siren | Jul 2, 2009 |
I was laughing my ass off the entire time I read this novel! Shiraz is a very lovable character. I wasn’t sure about this book at first. First off I had idea what a Chav was, and the cover scared me a little.... But once I started reading I was sucked into to Shiraz’s voice. The novel consists of journal entries. Think Sloppy first, British style. I may not have understood everything she was saying (thankfully there was an English dictionary for all the American cousins) but the girl is bloody brilliant! Some of my favorites:Baps: (n.) boobs. Also boobies, breasts, blouse potatoes.Fangita-eater: (n.) this is a pretty, erm, rude word for a girl who things other girls are hot and doesn’t fancy boys.Knob: (n.) a boys penis. But it’s also an insult too. “Stop being a knob!”Marmite: (n.) brown yeast extract spread that British people have on toast, which to an American person who isn’t used to it will taste like Satan’s jockstrap. Up the duff: (adj.) pregnant, knocked up, in the pudding club.Despite what you would initially think, Shiraz is very smart. And unfortunately it isn’t something that her environment encourages. Her mother seems to think that a rich husband is the way that Shiraz needs to go. Which is very sad. But while reading the novel you’ll soon learn that Shiraz is not the type of girl to settle down with a rich husband, she has a mind of her own. She has typical teenage problems. Figuring what to do with your life, working through friendships, problems with boys, it’s all in there and humorously done. While this novel lacks elegance and grace... if your looking for brutally honest, this just might be your ticket. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Shiraz’s voice. ( )
  the_story_siren | Jul 2, 2009 |
15-year old Shiraz Bailey Wood (also known as known as Shiz) is not a Chav. Even if her school is known as Superchav Academy. All she has to do is survive her GCSE's next year, her family, not being able to deal with lads, her best friend's new romance, and she'll be just fine. Because if there's one thing she's good at, it's telling it like it is!
The flyleaf and the back cover of this book read like the worst sort of face, but the pages inside? Deadly! Shiraz if far more than a mockery of a hoop-earringed, hoodie wearing Adidas slave - there is a lot going on in her head, and her voice is smart and very, very funny.
I'd give this to anglo-philes, people who enjoy high school comedy, and especially fans of Louise Rennison. ( )
  francescadefreitas | Jun 4, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316034835, Hardcover)

Chav: (n.) A British insult for white working-class people fixated on street fashions derived from American hip-hop such as imitation gold and fake designer clothing, e.g.,"It's a bruv who wears crap clothing and manky gold jewelry, innit?"

16-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood's days are filled with hoodies, hip-hop, and hanging around outside Claire's Accessories. Her parents work crap jobs and her school is pretty much chav central. There's not much goin' on in the world of this lovable dreamer, and having a brain and a heart of gold only makes it worse. Shiraz loathes being called a
chav because she may be poor but she's not trashy, but she can't do much about it-yet. Shiraz is beginning to feel there's a lot more to life than minimum wage and the bling of a souped-up Vauxhall Nova.

Told in diary entries over the course of a year attending the unfortunately named "SuperChav Academy" (where she'll do anything to prove she's not a chav), Shiraz's insanely funny voice and spirited narrative shows there is always a way to rise above any obstacle.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Fifteen-year-old Shiraz tries to imagine a life for herself beyond the limited expectations of family and peers in her working-class English neighborhood.

» see all 2 descriptions

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