My Life & Other Catastrophes, by Rowena Mohr

Tuesday 19 April 4.30 pm
Okay, let me get one thing straight. This is not going to turn into Bridget Jones’s Diary. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing in this stupid thing but I can tell you right now you’re not going to get any personal stuff. Mrs Parisi – she’s my English teacher – said that this is simply supposed to be an exercise in self-expression and even though we have to hand these diaries in at the end of the year, no one is actually going to read them. Like I’m going to fall for that one!

Erin is fifteen, starting Year 10 and trying to cope with a life that seems to be spiralling out of control. She has to write a diary all year and it becomes her confidant when she is sure no one else is listening. Her best friend is becoming distant; her father is unemployed and boring; her mother is dating the ‘creepazoid’, Erin’s PE teacher. Even her little brother Ben seems to be having a better life. Erin tries to be helpful, telling her mother her boyfriend is a creep, explaining life to her friend, and even advising her singing coach Brendan on what to do with his psycho mother. But no one is listening. Erin is on her own, determined to save her world.

My Life and Other Catastrophes is told in first person through Erin’s diary. Erin is feisty and opinionated and sure she’s right. About everything. Her world gradually unravels and the reader begins to understand some of the reasons for her sometimes irrational outbursts. Erin is struggling with the divorce of her parents, confused about her changing friendship, clueless about boys. She wraps her perceptions tight around her and will brook no other explanations. Every relationship is suspect, every motivation is suspect, no one is on her side. Erin’s diary is exquisite agony, the reader aware of her skewed observations, but laughing at her words. Themes include friendship, relationships, honesty, mental health. There’s also a healthy indication that keeping secrets is not always healthy. Recommended for lower- to mid-secondary readers.

My Life and Other Catastrophes, by Rowena Mohr
Allen & Unwin 2008
ISBN: 9781741752861

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