Is there such a thing as top chick lit? Feeling intrepid, and spurred on by recent blog posts, I sought to find out. First, I decided to settle on a definition: parameters are always good to work within.
~ Must have a pastel-coloured cover (with bonus points for sparkly bits).
~ Must have a female protagonist – preferably finding herself/making her mark on the world/lamenting her lack of mark on the world/experiencing at least one [female] rite of passage. Also: female protagonist must be notably imperfect, but likeably so… must have a flaw (clumsiness is currently a favourite, also outspokenness… some other thing like imperfect features is also good, but they can’t be incorrigibly imperfect), though not so bad as to be fatal, necessarily.
~ Must be written in a playful, confessional style, preferably utilising a first person narrator.
~ Should be set in a city.
~ Could spawn a series.
~ Not too much seriousness, tragedy or hand-ringing please.
Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty. Pastel cover? Check (there are pastel elements). Female protagonist? Check. Confessional first person narration? Check.
- How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff. Being controversial here, but How I Live Now really does fit the bill in many ways: an example of chick lit with added extras perhaps (a comment on the effect war has on civilians, a relationship lived through better and worse, a narrator looking back on rather than living through her story…). While the cover (at least the one we have in the library) is not pastel, it does feature flowers, or some sort of vegetation, and it is largely red-based, which is dark-pink in another universe.
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares. I haven’t read it, but Andree has and she said it was quite good and “if I was fourteen I would have loved it.” This one’s a bit different because it has multiple viewpoints. While the denim colour dominates the cover, the jeans do have some pastel flowers somewhere… Must add: chick lit must be eminently convertible into winning chick flick.
- Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. It doesn’t have a pastel cover! Doom! However, it does have a confessional, clumsy narrator/heroine who experiences the first-love-rite-of-passage (albeit with unlikely vampireman).
- Fly on the Wall, E Lockhart. The hard cover version has a pink cover (ironic, surely, considering the setting for the story). Gretchen Yee wakes up and discovers she’s a fly on the boys’ locker room wall (I guess being a fly counts as a flaw). Disturbing, especially when the boys arrive and use the locker room… best suited for older teens, apparently. The plot refers to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which would usually be too heavy for chick lit, but never mind; chicks are intelligent beings after all.
- I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith. Well, here there’s a young heroine discovering love for the first time, getting into a couple of scrapes, coping with her weird family and fending off the unwanted attentions of the Greek-God-like Stephen. Sounds like chick lit to me! Except for the country setting. Ahead of its time, hence no pastel cover (but if they reprinted it in peach or lime green it’d fly off the shelves).
- Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison. Go figure: this was an honour book for the Michael L Printz Award for Teen Literature in 2001. Almost puts you off a bit, really. In that vein:
- The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Carolyn Mackler. An honour book in 2004. Yay for chick lit.
- With Lots of Love from Georgia, Brigid Lowry. Thought this list should contain something from New Zealand, and this has got one of those catchy chick-litty titles.
- Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding. The one that started the craze, really… the bit where Bridget tries to programme her VCR is hilarious.
Signing off now except: what are nunga-nungas? We want to know, but don’t want to read the book.