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Glow Up, Lara Bloom: the secret diary of a teenage catastrophe!

Authored by Dee Benson
Published by Hot Key Books

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Lara Bloom is a compulsive journaller who suddenly switches from a handwritten diary to the security of a journalling app. The reason? Her brother got hold of the diary and discovered Lara’s secret crush on his best mate. He has been blackmailing her to do the household chores ever since. Who would risk that kind of embarrassing exposure a second time? A diary is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands.

The novel’s tagline is The secret diary of a teenage catastrophe. ‘Catastrophe’ because Lara is also clumsy, has hang-ups about her flat chest and hates her hair. She is the type of girl who leaves the house without brushing her teeth, and her bedroom smells of cat wee. There is also the obligatory mean-girl to contend with. Day-to-day life has been a ‘whopping disaster’ for too long. It is time to take charge.

Readers are invited to share Lara’s private, candid thoughts through entries in the diary app as she attempts to ‘glow-up’ and reinvent herself. With the help of friends Kayleigh, Anaya and Becky, she channels ‘queen’, ‘supermodel’, ‘diva’, ‘independent woman’ and ‘goddess’ energies. At the same time, Lara is also trying to maintain her captainship of the girls’ school football team. Far outperforming the boys, they are approaching a serious milestone in their unbeaten run. Recently moved to Liverpool from London is new boy Caiden. Does he like Lara or not? Alongside everything else, Lara has plenty on her plate trying to manage her feelings for him.

Lara’s journey to glowing up involves plenty of painful moments and entertaining missteps as she gets herself into a variety of ridiculous situations and scrapes. The diary format creates an intimate relationship with the reader, while Benson’s narrative manages to deal with issues of friendship, bullying, self-esteem and mental health in a humorous, light-touch way.

Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2024