Staff Review: Prim Improper
Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper. Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even painful – subjects with grace and humor. Prim must live with her father now, with whom she had not previously developed much of a relationship, and she is quick to judge “the mustachioed one” for his style, his questionable facial hair, and his general lack of humor when it comes to Prim’s constant antics, such as dressing her rat Rhoderick in tiny top hats or putting fake mustaches on babies. Prim is also surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, from Ella, who doesn’t talk much but indulges Prim’s love of dressing animals, to Ciara, who is struggling to quit her habit of eating her own hair. The diary entries are dotted with occasional asides with Prim’s definitions for new or unusual words she has come across – e.g., “Manly demeanour: appearance and general carry-on that reeks of manly. Lumberjacks, outlaws, and Clint Eastwood as a cowboy all have manly demeanour without trying.”
Prim Improper is a fascinating peek into the life of a middle-grade Irish girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, regardless of the consequences, and this debut novel leaves you wanting to hear more from Prim and her friends. Fortunately, there are two more books in the series! This is a great book for any middle grade reader and up, and makes a great transitional read for those who might be on the cusp of moving into young adult books.