Monday, 21 July 2014

Bargain Read: Do You Remember the First Time - Jenny Colgan

As her best friend Tashy cuts into her wedding cake, 32-year-old Flora realises she is disillusioned with life. Suddenly, her well-paid job, cosy flat and stable relationship with sensible Olly don't amount to a whole lot. Flora wants to be 16 again. She closes her eyes and wishes. Her wish has come true. 
Waking up the next morning is a shock. But now Flora has the chance to right some wrongs. Trading crows feet for pimples, love handles for a torso Britney Spears would kill for and dull dinner parties for house parties where White Lightning and snogging are the order of the day, Flora revels in a life where things are far less complicated and just much more… FUN. 
It's not all laughs though. Will what she does change the future? How can she get back to the present and her ordinary life? And does she even want to?

What are you still doing here? Jenny Colgan is only 99p! Go now! Sprint to Amazon and then come back and read the review (obviously).

Whilst it seems like an old trope, I've only actually read a few books with a similar plot line to Do You Remember the First Time and I've read even less that are executed half as well. Admittedly, I've no desire to ever re-live any portion of my teenage years but it doesn't surprise me that many people would jump at the chance to do it all over again. What's great, or maybe a bit weird, about Colgan's offering to this plot device is that Flora doesn't actually go back in time to her teenage years and get the chance to whitewash her life, she instead wakes up one day as a teenager in the present day (as it were). This leads to many an amusing incident of Flora running into current, mature friends of the present and her old flames of the past. 

Flora's shock to the system of how different today's teenagers really are to her own contemporaries is sure to ring true with many readers and her slow realisations about the realiity of the adults that surrounded her as a teen are equally as astute. Flora doesn't make some of the best decisions when she gets her second chance (some are a bit weird frankly) but she certainly makes some important discoveries; maybe being a teenager isn't all it's cracked up to be and maybe she doesn't want to do it all again after all.

Flora is also surrounded by a great group of friends that make the book all the more enjoyable: Tashy is the best friend I'm sure we'd all want in a crisis, and first love, Clelland, is the stuff moody teenagers dream off. 

My only criticism of the book would be the ending, but that's often the way with these sorts of things. How Flora was going to detangle herself from the mess she'd gotten herself into intrigued me and Colgan did a great job of resolving something that I couldn't think of a solution too at all, and yet it still jarred with me a little bit and I felt that it could have been done better somehow. I'd have liked more explanations or maybe an epilogue. Also, I'm not sure how Colgan explains the fact that Flora's parents also find themselves regressing, although in terms of the story and Flora's development I can see why it was necessary. All in all though I enjoyed Do You Remember the First Time because it was funny, light hearted and just the cheerful read that I needed. 

Having only recently rediscovered Colgan and completely loving her latest novels it's great that I get the chance to go back and devour all of her previous works, and for 99p everyone can give them a go. Do You Remember the First Time is a great little read, full of plenty of laughs and the sage insights that I've come to expect from one of Colgan's often excellent books.  Yes, you might have to suspend your belief a little but I promise it's well worth it, Flora's relatable and charming and the book is certainly entertaining and ultimately uplifiting, well worth a measley £1 I'd say. 

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