There has been a lot of flap recently about how violent and dark YA novels are. While those books do exist and are wonderful—I read many of them, there are also plenty of authors writing stories with out a dystopia or post-apocalyptic setting in sight. Keris Stainton is one of them. Her debut novel, Della Says: OMG, is a delightful read for high-school aged and above YA readers and is centered around the very charming, very funny Della.
Della’s over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party – but then she discovers her diary has disappeared…When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della’s distraught – how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?
Her mom is a former model and everyone says her older sister got their mum’s looks, her father is very charismatic and successful (her family owns a string of popular delis) and Della feels a bit left out (a very relatable feeling from what I remember about being a teenager.) After one of the most memorable moment’s in Della’s life, her diary gets nicked (oh yeah, this book is set in Lancashire, located in north west England. I love books set in the UK and all the little “Britishisms” that come with that) and someone aims to use all of Della’s admissions against her. It’s up to Della, her best friend Maddy, Maddy’s boyfriend Sid, his best friend Leo, and Della’s long-time crush Dan to figure out who’s up to no good. They are all faced with some other “normal” teen-aged stuff along the way. Kissing, doing a little more than kissing, and other situations that require not a single paranormal power to solve, i.e. life. Not a very complicated plot, to be sure, but Stainton does a superb job of creating likable, well thought-out characters and letting them fail and succeed as anyone would in real life.
This was a very quick, enjoyable read. I like Stainton’s writing style so much that I’ve pre-ordered her new novel Jessie Hearts NY. If the book had one drawback for me it was that I felt the ending was a bit rushed. I would have liked a little more in regards to the confrontation with the perpetrator, but all in all, this was a very cute, solid debut.
While “darker” YA plays a role in helping some teens see that they are not alone in facing great traumas or tragedies, books like Della Says: OMG allow teens to see that sometimes things out of your control happen, and while it might not be that big of a deal to some, it can be a really big deal to the person it’s happening to, and how you get through it, and who you get through it with, is the important thing.