When I was thirteen I borrowed a book from Frankston Library about a girl who lived in New York and who tried to get a bit part in a Woody Allen film- The Rise and Fall of a Teenage-Wacko by Mary Anderson. It’s out of print now but gosh I loved it. The protaganist, Laura, knew how to dress in floppy hats and colour coded her wardrobe. She was fabulous before I even knew the meaning of the word. I would like to read it again but I will have to hunt it down but I
blame credit this book for my fascination with Woody Allen and colour coded wardrobes.
The world Laura inhabited was so far away from my little world in Mount Eliza and the themes were extraordinary compared to the books I had read before this. The characters I knew up to this point were Trixie Beldon, The Bastable children and Mary Lennox. Laura, the teenage -wacko, had ambitions and vanity. I realised I had both of these traits also, traits that are deemed to be ugly in females, particularly young teenage girls. I was a wacko and I had found another wacko. I moved from Laura to Francie Nolan, Holden Caulfield and then to Scarlett O’Hara. All flawed and memorable characters but it was Laura the teenage wacko has stayed with me.
I read so much as a child and I have encouraged my children to read as well but other things intrude in their lives; TV, films, the internet. I cannot force them to read, they will resent the characters instead of relating. So I am hopeful they have something that resonates with them as Laura and Co. resonated with me. These characters changed me, for good and for bad. So thank you Mary Anderson, wherever you are, I loved your book. It made me laugh outloud, cry and most of all encouraged me to change my style and try new things. Laura gave me courage. You gave me courage.