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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (collected here as The Adrian Mole Diaries) are two novels that have sold five million copies in Great Britain in the last three years and spawned television shows, home computer games, and videocassettes. Although the Diaries are a pleasant-enough story of the coming-of-age of a smart, alecky adolescent, it's hard to see what the fuss is all about. Adrian is an obsessively neat, hypochondriacal 14-year-old who begins his diary by primly recounting his parents' New Year's Eve antics: ""My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. . . I feel rotten today. It's my mother's fault for singing 'My Way' at two o'clock in the morning."" According to Adrian, he's the only sane, mature person in the family, and this seems borne out when his mother runs away with the insurance salesman next door, and his father loses his job selling electrical heaters and is forced to become a canal bank restorer. When not recounting his domestic woes, Adrian sets down his troubles at school: he's forced to pay protection money to the local bully; he's in love with the beauteous Pandora, who won't let him get to first base; his literary magazine, The Voice of Youth (written entirely by Adrian), is an enormous flop. Adrian's parents finally get back together, and even have another baby; Adrian runs away, in protest, but returns to a happy ending, as Pandora lets him get as far as third base. Adrian can be charming, but he's a familiar type, and almost 350 pages of daily diary entries dealing with his wacky parents and the seemingly endless vicissitudes of the family dog can wear a reader down. The book is really less a novel than a collection of one-liners (it started out as a radio play) with a lot of static in between--staying tuned in simply isn't worth the effort.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1986
Publisher: Grove