Very rarely have I read a book where I feel as though the character could be myself but that is exactly what it felt like reading The Very Metal Diary of Cleo Howard. Well, except the worrying about my bra size.
Written by Sarah Tipper, the book takes us inside the secret world of a teenage heavy metal fan during the mid to late 90s. All of Cleo’s inner thoughts and daily details are shared here in a ‘dear diary’ format.
She’s an interesting character but how you feel about the subjects that she enjoys will probably have some bearing on how you feel about the story. Also chances are that if you were a teenager in the 90’s too (I was) then you’ll really feel connected to her.
Cleo has many of the problems that assail all teenagers. School, friends, the opposite sex, family and body issues. She’s as normal as they come and incredibly relatable. Her love of heavy metal, unwilling to even consider the fact that other music exists (I remember feeling exactly as she does about the Spice Girls), is adorable. I bought Kerrang, I bought Metal Hammer, I dreamed about seeing Metallica live, I wondered if I was ever going to have sex…she’s every teenage metal fan.
She comes across wiser then her years at times yet at others she is childish and very naïve. Without going into spoilers, a blooming relationship had me screaming internally at Cleo.
Tipper’s writing is so convincing that I stopped thinking I was reading a book. It was as though I had my hands on her diary. Guiltily reading about her school life, family drama and the confusion over her feelings for certain boys.
Don’t let that betray the fact that there is a story here though. Told in restrictive fashion, they develop slowly over the pages. Then when big events happen they come out of nowhere. It can be quite a jolt to the system forcing you to slow your reading down briefly and take in what you just read.
It’s fiction but it’s really well-written fiction. Give it a read even if metal isn’t your thing.
The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard