Rebecca Elliott’s young adult book Pretty Funny tells the story of teenage girl Haylah Swinton. Haylah is a comedy geek who stays up late watching YouTube clips of her favourite stand-ups and comedy panel shows and writes jokes in a diary. But it doesn’t end there, Haylah dreams of one day being able to perform stand-up on stage and make a living as a professional comedian. However, like plenty of young women, Haylah isn’t sure if they allow people like her on stage…
This low esteem combined with a crush results in a Cyrano style situation in which Haylah ghostwrites some comedy material for a boy at her school. Elliott writes teenagers well, refraining from trying to use any slang (which would no doubt be out of date by the time of publication) and just focusing on the issues that seem to come up for all teenagers, no matter what new tech is added to their life. Very few people grow up without experiencing all-consuming crushes on unsuitable people, fighting with their parents and falling out with friends.
It’s also so refreshing to read about a young woman with ambition and passion that is not… say, a vampire/werewolf love interest. Haylah has a pretty full life, between being average at school, helping her single mother out with the care of her four-year-old brother and doing the all important ‘nothing much’, she is a realistic character I believe plenty of teenagers would identify with.
Pretty Funny is pretty funny, with well-rounded characters and a suspiciously familiar description of an MC… While I no longer fall into the ‘young adult’ or ‘teen’ category, this was still an enjoyable book and I wish this book had been written when I was a teenager!
Pretty Funny, by Rebecca Elliott, will be released under the Penguin imprint in paperback on 19th March 2020. To pre-order click here!