Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Puberty Blues

'Puberty Blues' became something of a teen Aussie cult classic when it was first published in the 1970's. It is based on the lives of the authors, Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, who grew up in the Sydney suburbs.
The main protagonists in the story are two thirteen year olds-Debbie and Sue-who are desperate to become part of the in-crowd. And the 'in' thing to do is surf-if you are a male that is-and so life for the girls consists of hanging out at the beach and hopefully becoming noticed by the surfies.

While the boys (who all seem to be blonde) ride the waves, the girls watch on the beach...for hours...and hours. When the guys finish surfing, the girls immediately leap into action; they flirt, fawn and buy food for them.

Peer pressure plays an overwhelming part in the lives of the teens in this book, and parents seem to have little if any role in guiding their offspring. The teens smoke, drink, have under-age sex, and take drugs. They sneak out of bedrooms and into panel vans of boys waiting around the corner. Their greatest fear seems to be boredom, or being uncool.

'Puberty Blues' is honest and gutsy. It is also crass and can make you cringe. It is by no means a comfortable read. As an adolescent growing up in rural Victoria in the seventies, the sexism and peer pressure within the book did strike a chord with my own upbringing.

'Puberty Blues' is now being screened as a mini-series on television. The main characters and themes are true to the original novel, though much more detail has been given to the backgrounds of the teens-their parents and siblings play a greater role in the series than in the novel. This is positive as it does add an amount of depth to the storyline.



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