cover image The Adrian Mole Diaries

The Adrian Mole Diaries

Sue Townsend. Grove Press, $14.95 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55298-9

Adrian is 13 years old when we get our first look at his diary, and he has a spot on his chin. For the next two and a half years, dozens of wearisome spots plague him, along with the vitamin-deficient meals his parents supply, his horror of physical exercise and the length of his ""thing,'' which he measures indefatigably. An insatiable reader, he inquires of the cultural department at the BBC how to become an Intellectual, an enterprise hobbled by the superior brilliance of his girfriend Pandora, who prefers to be called Box. But his solipsistic preoccupations are interrupted by his mother's affair with the next-door neighbor, his father's with the woman down the block, his father's job redundancy and subsequent problems with the Dole, and especially by the demands of Bert Baxter, an old-age pensioner whom Adrian, as a member of the Good Samaritans, has agreed to visit. This is nothing, however, to the blow to his pride when his mother becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby who seems to make Adrian himself redundant. Townsend's wry depiction of Adrian's adolescence should make even the soberest reader laugh out loud. But underneath the humor there are provocative thoughts about family relationships and contemporary society. In Britain, the books (the original and a sequel, here combined into one volume) sold some five million copies, inspired a long-running musical and a TV miniseries, and made Adrian Mole a household name. (May)