Diary of a Confused Feminist coverI like reading young adult fiction (not the paranormal stuff, though) to find out what young people are experiencing and also to find out about how diversity and acceptance are flowing through younger generations. While this covers fewer issues than the excellent US book, “Full Disclosure” which I also read recently, this hits harder than it perhaps looks from the cover (or feels from the opening) on issues around mental health.

Kate Weston – “Diary of a Confused Feminist”

(01 March 2020, NetGalley)

This Young Adult novel in diary form opens with Kat and her friends Sam and Millie being interrupted while spraying #TimesUp in red paint on the school playground, and more farcical scenes follow their accidental graffiti of “#Tim”. They’re 15, about to turn 16, a tight group of friends, but boys are coming into the picture and it’s all too easy to feel left behind. They’re trying to be feminists and to work out their place in the world at a difficult time anyway.

While Kat’s self-deprecating diary entries start off funny, they spiral into self-hatred and anxiety, and just when I was starting to find this a bit  distressing and depressing to read, we find out why, and it’s all justified and cleverly done, as you almost don’t see the gradual decline.

It’s good on the pernicious influence of social media on especially teenagers and the need to check your phone constantly. It’s also great at inserting interesting resources such as the “Girl Up” book and Instagram accounts and hashtags to follow and hopefully these will get followed up by readers who haven’t come across them before. While it’s not as diverse as books like “Full Disclosure” (there’s a gay best male friend, mention of a lesbian couple and a bit of racial diversity) we do get some discussion about what it was like for Sam’s mother as a Black woman forging her way in the world, although Sam seems untouched by issues of racism, which feels a bit unusual. I love the mums, too, as someone who’s probably older than they’re supposed to be, from Kat’s hotshot scientist mum to her friend’s mum’s anti-men railings, and boys are shown as being feminist, too, especially those with sisters.

Kat’s friends abandon her for their boyfriends a bit, but they learn their lesson, and her own romantic status at the end is refreshing. The book portrays anxiety almost as well as “Queenie” does, by very much showing rather than telling, and that would make it a good resource as well as an entertaining read. I loved the extra “How not to be a confused feminist” list at the back of the book.

Thank you to Hodder Children’s Books for making this book available to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review. “Diary of a Confused Feminist” was published on 06 February 2020.