Diary of a Chav

Diary of a Chav

3.3 3
by Grace Dent

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Fifteen-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood's days are filled with hanging around outside Claire's Accessories, her parents work crap jobs, and her school is pretty much loser central. But this loveable British dreamer with a brain and a heart of gold is beginning to feel there might be a lot more to life than minimum wage and the bling of a souped-up car.


Fifteen-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood's days are filled with hanging around outside Claire's Accessories, her parents work crap jobs, and her school is pretty much loser central. But this loveable British dreamer with a brain and a heart of gold is beginning to feel there might be a lot more to life than minimum wage and the bling of a souped-up car.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Geri Diorio
Sixteen-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood lives in contemporary working-class England. She and her schoolmates are mocked as "chavs," a British insult for white, blue-collar people who are fixated on fashions derived from American hip-hop, such as imitation gold jewelry and fake designer clothing. Her grandmother, who sees hidden depths in Shiraz, gives her a diary for Christmas, and tells her to write down her secret hopes and wishes. Over the course of a year, as her diary entries show, Shiraz meets an encouraging teacher, falls for a boy, splits from and reunites with her dearest friend, gets into minor trouble, starts her first job, watches as her sister moves out after a large family row, and contrives a wacky solution to bring her family together again. The writing is meant to be the journaling of a smart girl hiding her brains from the world, but it is so full of British slang and poor grammar that it is almost unreadable. A glossary is provided at the back to help readers unfamiliar with the jargon, and this reviewer found herself flipping to it time and again. Because the reader never gets to see Shiraz's intellect, which is only revealed through the comments of other characters, when it finally comes out, it is unbelievable. There is never a doubt that the book will have a happy ending, so there is no narrative drive. If teens are looking for good, diary-style reads, offer work by Louise Rennison or Sonya Sones instead. Reviewer: Geri Diorio
VOYA - Lucy Freeman
Diary of a Chav has the potential to be a fun summer novel, but the reader realizes within the first few pages that every character is immature and loathsome. Although I understand that Dent is trying to write in the style of a teenager, there is no need for the sentences to be grammatically mangled. Readers will spend more time trying to follow Shiraz's thought process than actually enjoying the quirky plot. Reviewer: Lucy Freeman, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Sixteen-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood gets a diary from her grandmother for Christmas even though she has been hinting broadly that she wants an iPod. Shiraz attends Mayflower Academy in Ilford, Essex, a school described by the local newspaper as "Superchav Academy," a label she resents because the term refers to working-class people who wear cheap, imitative hip-hop clothing and jewelry. She fills the year of her new diary with the highs and lows of life with her rowdy family, the joys and miseries of her friends and enemies at school, her first serious romantic interest, and her efforts to resolve her family's problems by bringing them together on a television show called Fast-Track Family Feud. Shiraz is a smart but impulsive girl who often gets into trouble at school and at home by acting or speaking without much thought of the consequences. Like most of her friends, she shrugs off her schoolwork and plans to quit and get a job as soon as she can. But in January a tough new English teacher, Mrs. Braddock, comes into the chaos of Mayflower Academy and gradually pushes Shiraz toward finishing school. Her best friend Carrie falls in love with Bezzie, a musician Shiraz does not think much of, though she secretly likes his friend Wesley. In July, Shiraz tells Carrie what a jerk she thinks Bezzie is and the two girls stop speaking. Then in August, her older sister Cava-Sue gets into a big fight with their mother and leaves home. Shiraz is miserable the rest of the summer. Even when Carrie and Bezzie break up in September, the girls remain on the outs and life at home is depressing. But at the end of the month Carrie gets her big idea. She sends a letter to Fast-Track FamilyFeud and convinces them to try to resolve her family's problems on the air. In November, they go on the show and although the interviewer sensationalizes the relationships among her mother, her grandmother, her sister, and herself, the women work it out themselves and Cava-Sue comes home. Carrie and Shiraz make up, and in December all ends well when Wesley takes Shiraz out for pizza and kisses her goodnight. The British slang may slow some readers down at first but the humor, Shiraz's thoroughly likeable character, and the fast pace of the action should keep them going. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito
School Library Journal

Gr 7-9

In this slangy, journal-style novel, Shiraz Bailey Wood, 15, lives in Essex and attends Mayflower Academy (generally known as Superchav Academy). She's a slacker at school and is behind much of the drama surrounding its official events (such as the fight that broke out at the Winter Festival). Everything is fine, though, until her best friend finds a new love interest and pushes Shiraz into the background; her sister and mother have a fight and Cava-Sue moves out; and a new, tough teacher comes to Mayflower Academy. Suddenly everything Shiraz knows is turned upside down and the only person she can tell is her new diary. This novel is packed with British slang and pop-culture references to the point of confusion. (A 14-page glossary is included.) Still, the plot is universal, proving that teenagers are the same worldwide. Shiraz is a witty and amusing narrator, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments.-Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL

Kirkus Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood wanted an iPod for Christmas but got a diary instead. "What is the point in spending all December drawing arrows all over the Argos catalogue if NO ONE TAKES NO NOTICE??" In her initial entry, Shiraz hopes (among other things) that her school, Mayflower Academy, will shake its reputation as Superchav Academy, because if there's one thing Shiraz can't stand, it's being called a chav—a British slang term that's defined as an insult to working-class people seen as being fixated on copying American street fashion. Although Shiraz denies the label, her tough attitude and wardrobe of hoop earrings and tracksuits makes it hard to deny. And when her teacher and her sister, Cava-Sue, point out that there is life beyond Mayflower Academy, Shiraz begins questioning her ways. Thick with British teen slang as the diary entries that comprise the text are, the appended glossary is essential. Their rough, street-wise language provides a natural and unique vehicle for readers to see Shiraz's self-exploration and growth. Hilarious and unflinching. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
File size:
525 KB
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Grace Dent's Diary of a Chav is a bestseller in the UK. Grace is still grounded for dying her mother's best saucepan purple while customizing denim hot pants when she was a teenager, but she also works as a journalist for The Guardian and Radio Times for whom she recently wrote a phenomenally popular Big Brother blog.

She is currently working on the fourth Shiraz book for Hodder UK, and Diary of a Chav #2 will publish in hardcover on the Little, Brown Young Readers list in Fall 2009.

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3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Originally published in Great Britain as TRAINERS VS. TIARAS, Grace Dent has crossed the Atlantic and now we are able to enjoy the rich adventures of Shiraz Bailey Wood.

Meet Shiraz. Most of the folks in her small town think she is a "chav." And if you're like me, you're wondering what in the world is a "chav" right? Fortunately, Ms. Dent supplies us poor American folk a glossary at the back of the book. A "chav" is a poor working class person in Britain. My first thought was, "OK, so this would be similar to our term trailer trash." I wasn't wrong! For in the definition Ms. Dent provides, she claims that being called a chav is a bit like calling someone trailer trash. So, having that out of the way, you can get the gist of the tone of the story.

Poor Shiraz is faced with the derogatory definition throughout the book. It starts off at Christmas time where she complains that she gets knock off trainers (sneakers for us Americans!) and a diary. She can't believe her grandma would even think of giving HER a diary. Is she nuts? But as the story unfolds, Shiraz comes to write down everything that happens over the course of the next year.

The diary format has been used before, that's nothing new. We've seen it THE PRINCESS DIARIES, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and the Louise Rennison novels. But what makes DIARY OF A CHAV stand out is the unique way Ms. Dent has Shiraz tell her story.

Shiraz is a loudmouth and doesn't want to stand out at school. But when a new English teacher shows up and sees something in Shiraz, Shiraz finally starts to contemplate if there is more to life than just earning money at a job. Her year at school does a two-week work stint, and while working at a mind-numbingly boring job at a packing plant, Shiraz decides she will try to do the work at school.

While dealing with school, Shiraz also has troubles at home to deal with. Her mom and older sister are at odds and, to solve the problem, Shiraz writes to a Jerry Springer type show for help. Airing their dirty laundry on TV doesn't turn out the way Shiraz expects it to.

And to top all that off, her best friend, Carrie, has ditched her for her exciting new boyfriend, Bezzie. Shiraz doesn't think Bezzie is all that, but Carrie can't see beyond having such a grand guy, and the friendship starts to suffer.

For those expecting a book to flow elegantly and gracefully, DIARY OF A CHAV isn't that book. But if you're looking for a brutally honest look at the life of the teenager in working class England, this is your book. Shiraz is a breath of fresh air. She may irritate you at times with her disregard for authority, but in the end, she does choose the right path and you want to cheer for her when she does!

For more adventures of Shiraz, look for POSH AND PREJUDICE (SLING THE BLING in Great Britain) due out in June 2009. For those of you that absolutely can not wait, you can get your hands on this and more in the series from Great Britain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Yasas10 More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book off the internet because after checking several ratings, it was rated quite high - 4 stars. I quite like how it started, with her describing how she didn't want a diary at all, but the rest just bored me. It's possible that it annoyed me as I didn't get the British humour, but I don't see how this could possibly be the main effect.