Margaret Clark is an award-winning young adult and children’s writer, and I’ve read a number of her books over the years, but I have to say my favourites by Clark are the Lisa Trelaw books: Fat Chance, Hot or What, Kiss and Make Up, and Hooking Up. These books follow teenager Lisa Trelaw as she gets her break as a model and enters the cut-throat, shallow industry to follow her dreams.
On the surface, these are light-hearted, funny books, and Lisa is a wonderfully dynamic character. Yet each book touches on serious issues such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and sexual harassment, all while giving teenagers an insight into the harsh realities of a career in modelling. I love Clark’s raw style. She has the wonderful ability of writing scarily realistically, and accurately portrays the fears, dreams and insecurities of teenage girls.
My favourite of these books would have to be Kiss and Make Up. Lisa is vying to win Teen Model of the Year, and is teamed together with a model called Coco, who is the most down-to earth model Lisa has met. In this book, Lisa learns about the difficulties of juggling relationships with careers, and the dangers of acting older than her sixteen years. In the previous book Lisa is forced to model with a couple of girls she doesn’t really like, and I think I was pleased to discover she’d finally found herself an ally in these pages!
My least favourite of the four is probably the most recent, Hooking Up, as Clark introduces a new character, plus-size model Mandy, and alternates viewpoint chapter by chapter between Lisa and Mandy. I was expecting, and hoping for, another episode in Lisa’s journey towards becoming a top model, and was disappointed to find the book didn’t focus entirely on this character I’d grown to love.
These books are fun, contrasting Lisa’s less-than-glamorous home life working in her parents’ hot food van at Jan Juc, with the “glamorous” world of modelling, yet Clark ensures she reveals the not so glamorous side of modelling too.
Fat Chance, Random House, 1993
Hot or What, Random House, 1995
Kiss and Make Up, Random House, 1999
Hooking Up, Random House, 2001