The Big Read

Books from Childhood – No.99 The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

Ahh The Princess Diaries. I think I read this aged about 8 or 9 years old and to me Mia led this impossibly glamorous life in New York, going to high school, riding the subway, being a princess hardly came into it. Having just read a plot summary to jog my memory I think I may have gotten the wrong end of the stick.

All the same I loved this series, and yes it is a series, and in fact I think I got to number 6 before I had outgrown Mia’s actually incredibly insightful diary. What drew me to Mia and maybe why I overlooked the Princess parts is she is so normal and relatable. Amidst all the extraordinary circumstances she is just an ordinary teenager dealing with boys and friends and school and all the other stuff that everybody has to go through. Reading it as someone who had yet to experience anything like adolescences, it was quite good preparation for what was yet to come.

Mia is described as awkward, too tall with triangular hair and nowadays if an author described a female protagonist like that I would probably shut the book because I would be able to guess exactly where the story was going (see finds a guy who thinks she’s beautiful just the way she is. Ugh). But because it is written as a diary we straight away have an unreliable narrator so you don’t trust Mia’s view of herself or of anyone around her, except maybe her crazy scary grandmother. Now I am by no means claiming that at 9 years old I was familiar with the concept of unreliable narrators but I knew that I was only hearing Mia’s side of the story and things probably didn’t go exactly the way she recorded them.

And this is why I would recommend it to girls under 12 everywhere. It taught me that that time you spilt food down yourself in the cafeteria and you cried with shame, nobody probably even noticed. And if they did and they made fun of you, why on earth do you want to impress those people? Those people suck. There is more to life than trying to fit in and that mean people can find ways to hate you no matter what you look like or how you behave. Pretty good life lessons for a book about a Princess.

Rating: 4/5

Would recommend to: girls under 12

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