Saturday, 13 January 2007

Growing Up Again by Caitriona McCloud

Growing Up Again
Catriona McCloud
(Orion €??)

OH, those awful mistakes we make, that wake us up before dawn, trembling and grinding our teeth, and thinking "Why? Why? Why?"

In the case of Janie Lawson, heroine (and I use the term advisedly) of Growing Up Again, the mistakes include her marriage.

Then she wakes up in an unfamiliar - yet strangely familiar - bedroom. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar - yet strangely familiar - face looking back at her.

Janie's gone back to the future. She's 15 again, and she has her whole life to live over.

But Catriona McCloud's take on it isn't as limited as Hollywood's. Janie doesn't just have her own life to live. She's got her chance to change the world.

McCloud is in fact Scottish detective writer Catriona McPherson, and she brings the tough love approach of detective fiction to this foray into chicklit land with good effect.

She brings Jane back to the awful clothes, music and wallpaper of the 80s, then she sics her on world politics.

Because Jane's back in her past for a purpose. When she meets a man called Pilchard it all falls into place.

I mean, what would you do if you could persuade Lady Di Spencer that the big-eared bloke who's courting her isn't the man for her?

And you know how the Millennium Bug never sent the world into meltdown? Ever wondered why? That was because Pilchard came back and stopped it - of course!

What about the Twin Towers - what would you do if you could save those thousands of people killed when the planes went into the world's most prominent finance district, and the hundreds of thousands killed since in the 'war on terror'?

We've all had those fantasies - if I could go back I'd be able to make a million by betting on the unknown Shergar, to stop Martin Luther King and President Kennedy being assassinated.

But of course it's not that easy when you're Jane, a schoolkid with just the awesome power of a 15-year-old.

Growing Up Again is set in Scotland, but has the rather anodyne lack of localness of girly books.

But it full of laughs, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you turning the pages.


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