PLANET JANET by Dyan Sheldon


Age Range: 12 & up
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An utterly self-absorbed British teen scrivens her frustrations with the rest of the world in her slang-filled diary, all the while blissfully ignorant of the real chaos around her. Sound familiar? Janet Bandry is distinguished from Georgia Nicolson by her pretensions toward intellectualism: she and her best friend have decided to celebrate the new year by entering what they call the Dark Phase. What the Dark Phase means to Janet is wearing black, dying her hair purple, listening to jazz, and attempting to read The Outsider (“it was about three thousand pages shorter than Ulysses”). Janet’s family includes her mother, the Mad Cow; her psychiatrist father, Sigmund; her photographer brother, Geek Boy; her lesbian feminist aunt, Sappho; and her Bible-thumping ex-spy Nan, all of whom represent tedious obstacles to Janet’s pursuit of passion, in the person of the dashing vegetarian Elvin. In Sheldon’s (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, 1999, etc.) hands, Janet’s general numbness results in some truly hilarious passages, but it also can be painful to witness. What the reader knows long before Janet is that her parents’ marriage is on the rocks: “Came home to find the female parent IN MY ROOM! She was lying on my bed! I was highly indignant, I can tell you. Not only was this a MAJOR breach of my privacy, but her eyes were all red and she was sniffling like she was coming down with something. She’d better not be infecting me with her germs.” The constant irony between Janet’s unbelievably obtuse reportage and the actual events readers discern below the surface sounds a one-note chorus that wears thin. Janet worries to her diary “about becoming as shallow and pointless as the rest of [her] family.” While this offering provides undeniable chuckles (aided by discriminating use of typefaces for emphasis), one is left wondering whether it is itself rather shallow and pointless. But it will certainly find an audience. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-2048-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2003


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