Today is my stop on The Write Reads blog tour for the fabulously fierce and feminist Bad Habits, published by Penguin this month. It takes a lot for a book to make me genuinely laugh out loud but this one did, and I had sent off several texts recommending it within the first chapters.
Trigger and content warnings: Mentions of sex, set in a Catholic school, lots of happy swearing (as in, not used in an aggressive context), sexism, discussions of sexual health, one mention of weed.
Hilarious, bold, sparky and surprising, this is the funniest feminist book you’ll read all year.
Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.
Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . .
I knew I was going to love Alex from from the first few pages, and I was quickly proved right. She was a genuinely hilarious character, both because of her wit and also the righteous indignation that made me so remember my teenage years. I might not have had the fauxhawk, but I did have Doc Martens, work with knee high socks covered in skulls, and always worn with a ripped skirt. Ah, the memories.
Alex’s fight against the patriarchy and the rules in general were driven by a fierce determination to remain her own person while being pushed into a little box. She realises along the way that the picture is bigger than that, however, and wants to make sure that every student at St Mary’s – especially the girls – has someone to turn to, to look up to, and to guide them.
As much as the story is largely an easy to read, funny tale, there are key points where Alex grows as a person, with discoveries about others as well as herself, both opening her eyes to things that she might have otherwise have been willingly blind to. The fact she can manage to do so well still finding her sense of humour – and her natural rebellion – is a testament to her character as a whole, and to how well crafted she has been by the author. She’s far from perfect, and that is what makes her so utterly loveable in my eyes.
The characters she interacts with along the way are all special in their own way too, especially her room mate, Mary Kate. Having attended a boarding school as a day girl, I can completely attest to the friendships you form under close quarters are those of a certain kind. The fact they were so different but so close really made me smile, and it really sings of one of those friendships that will last a (fictional) lifetime.
Finally, my thanks to The Write Reads for involving me in this brilliantly fun tour; this book was just what I needed to perk me up after <gestures at the last year> this. Thank you also to Penguin for my copy of the book, which I just know is going to be read time and time again.