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The real rebecca, p.1
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       The Real Rebecca, p.1

           Anna Carey
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The Real Rebecca

  ‘I laughed and squirmed my way through The Real Rebecca, the sparkling and spookily accurate diary of a Dublin teenager. It’s stonkingly good and I haven’t laughed so much since reading Louise Rennison. Teenage girls (and grown-up teens) will love Rebecca to bits!’ Sarah Webb, author of the ‘Amy Green’ series

  ‘A really good teen book …’

  Sarra Manning, author of’ ‘Diary of a Crush’ and ‘Fashionistas’

  ‘This book is fantastic! Rebecca is sweet, funny and down-to-earth, and I adored her friends, her quirky parents, her changeable but ultimately loving older sister and the swoonworthy paperboy.’ Chicklish Blog

  ‘A laugh-out loud story.’ Hot Press

  ‘The dialogue crackles with authenticity and wry humour …’

  Irish Independent

  ‘A funny light-hearted romp …’ Irish Times

  ‘Brilliantly funny.’ Evening Herald

  ‘Rebecca is a thoroughly likeable heroine – angsty and mixed-up but warm-hearted and feisty.’ Books Ireland


  Thanks to Susan Houlden, Emma Byrne and everyone at the O’Brien Press; Chris Judge for such a perfect cover; Helen Carr for support, friendship and inspiration; Jennifer Foster, Louise Butler and Miriam McCaul, who sat through many real-life history and German classes with me in Dominican College and are still my friends twenty years later; Sinéad Gleeson and everyone at the Anti-Room; Joan, Wally and all the Freynes, especially Maria for telling me about the Junior Cert history curriculum; my parents, who always encouraged their daughters’ slightly deranged literary endeavours; my sisters Lisa, Jenny and Rachel for thirty-five years of shrieking and laughing; my nephew Arlo McGurk, aka Mr Baby, for being a general inspiration; and last but not least, to my husband Patrick Freyne for being brilliant and kind and making me laugh a lot.

  To my parents, who are not quite as embarrassing as the parents in this book, and to my husband Patrick, who is (almost) never embarrassing at all.



  Title Page



  The Real Rebecca

  About the Author



  Today is the first day of the new school year, and it’s been raining non-stop since I woke up. Which is just typical, as Cass said this morning on the way to school. She had to keep taking her glasses off as we walked, because it was raining and she couldn’t see through them. She says that being basically blinded by rain is just one more reason why she absolutely has to get contact lenses for her birthday, even though her parents think she should wait another year.

  ‘But when you think about it,’ said Alice, as Cass wiped her glasses on her school jumper for the fiftieth time, ‘it’s a good thing that it’s raining today. Because if it was sunny, it’d be even worse having to go to school. You’ve got to count your blessings, Cass.’

  And then she stood in a puddle that was more like a lake, and after that she stopped saying how great the rain was.

  So here I am, Rebecca Rafferty, now the wonderful age of fourteen and back in horrible St Dominic’s again, writing in my diary in the middle of geography. Miss Kelly won’t care because she’s wittering on about the hideous effects of global warming, her favourite subject. All our classes were about it last year. It’s quite handy, really – Miss Kelly always gets so excited by the thought of our impending hideous deaths that she doesn’t care what we’re doing in class as long as we’re quiet. Alice and I have been having a conversation in note form, but now Alice’s pen has run out so I’m writing this. Miss Kelly is in full flow now, so she’ll never notice. I don’t know why she’s still telling us about melting ice caps and the forthcoming ice age; she terrified us into submission months ago. We have all vowed never to own cars. Lisa O’Hara even refused to go in her parents’ car for a while, but she gave up when they said they’d drive off on holiday to France without her.

  Anyway! School hasn’t changed in the three months since I last saw it. It’s the same hideous old kip it was last year. Everyone in our class is the same, although Jessie McCabe has dyed her hair blonde (she says her parents went mad when they saw it, not least because she paid for it with the money she’d been given to get new school shoes) and Vanessa Finn is possibly even more annoying than she was last year. Vanessa’s parents are very rich and apparently her dad really wanted her to go to a private school because he didn’t want her to attend the same school as, and I actually quote, ‘girls who would grow up to be hairdressers’. Because according to him that is a fate worse than death. But of course there are no private schools anywhere near here so she would have had to go to town to find one, and giving her a lift there would take too long what with the deadly-fume-exuding traffic, so she’s stuck at St Dominic’s with the rest of us commoners.

  So anyway, school is more or less the same as ever. In fact, the only difference is that we are no longer the youngest girls in the school. Hurrah! Cass and Alice agree with me that the first years all look about five. We can’t have looked like that last year, can we? This lot don’t look old enough to be allowed walk to school on their own.

  I wonder if they’ve heard the rumours that first years get their heads flushed down the loos by evil sixth-year bullies. Alice and I were obsessed with those stories before we started at St Dominic’s, even though Rachel told us they were rubbish. We thought she was just lulling us into a false sense of security, because that’s what mean big sisters do, but it turned out she was actually right. Sixth years didn’t flush first years down the loos. Although we wouldn’t accept this until Christmas. Wenever went to the loo on our own in case a sixth year pounced on us from behind a cubicle door and shoved our heads down the toilet.

  Oops, Miss Kelly seems to be winding down. She’s got to what we’ll do if we survive the ice age, which means that the class is nearly at an end. Better go.


  I’m writing this at home, far away from the hell of St Dominic’s School for Girls. Not that it’s much better around here. I was just on the phone to Cass and my mother came into my room and STOOD OVER ME UNTIL I GOT OFF THE PHONE! What sort of mother is she? She doesn’t want me to be able to talk to anyone. She and Dad only give me a tiny amount of credit for my phone so I have to use the landline if I want to have a proper conversation. And of course that means she hovers over me, telling me to hang up after about five minutes. This evening she said that I’d been on the phone for over an hour and it was costing her and Dad money and when I was paying my own bills I could stay on the phone for as long as I liked but until then blah, blah, blah.

  I said, in a very dignified voice, ‘Mother, Cassandra and I have important scholastic matters to discuss. Please go away.’

  She said, ‘Oh, come off it, Bex, you were talking about that ridiculous programme about rich kids in Los Angeles, I could hear you from the kitchen.’

  I said, ‘American television drama is an important scholastic matter, mother dear. We’re doing media studies this term.’

  And she just laughed at me and said, ‘Well, I’m sure your teacher will be very interested in hearing your thoughts on – what was it? The “incredible cuteness of Jack Rosenberg”.’

  I glared at her and said, ‘The only attractive boys we ever see are on the telly, seeing as we’re stuck in an all-girl school. Please don’t deny us our only pleasure. Jack Rosenberg is the only romantic outlet we have.’

  And she laughed again and said, ‘One more minute, Bex. I’m warning you.’ She went off to the kitchen to laugh about me some more with Dad, but I knew she’d be listening to make sure I didn’t stay on the phone for longer than sixty seconds. So I had to get off the phone. If all the women who re
ad her stupid books knew what a terrible mother she was, they’d never buy another one of them again. Mum’s books are all full of feisty old mothers who are the heart of their happy homes. They never force their innocent daughters to get off the phone when they are in the middle of discussing whether Jack Rosenberg is still as cute as he was in the first series of Laurel Canyon. (I say he’s not; Cass says he only gets better with age).

  Someday I will write an exposé on what my mother is really like. I said this to Rachel once and she just sniggered and said, ‘Oh yeah, what’ll you say? That she didn’t let you rack up another 300 Euro phone bill? Boo hoo, you’re so deprived.’

  ‘She’s your mother too, Rache,’ I said. ‘You should write one as well.’

  And then Rachel got all serious and stern and told me to count my blessings because our parents are great (which is not what she thought a few months ago when they wouldn’t let her go to Glastonbury with her boyfriend) and that some girls have real problems with their parents which are a lot bigger than just being shoved off the phone after an hour.

  She’s right, I suppose. But still.


  Still raining! I wonder is this one of the many dreadful results of global warming? I said this at the breakfast table this morning and Rachel said, ‘Yeah, Rebecca, it’s raining for two days in a row. In Ireland. How amazing. It must be the end of the world.’

  She wouldn’t joke about it if she had to sit in Miss Kelly’s class. At least when the second ice age starts I will be prepared. Dad backed me up and said that global warming was something everyone should take seriously, and that it’s up to all of us to do our bit to protect our green heritage. And then he went off to work in his petrol-eating, environment-wrecking car! He could just get the bus, seeing as the college is in the middle of town. Or he could walk, if he was feeling energetic. I mean, I have to walk to school every day, even when it rains. He’d only have an extra two miles to go. I’d walk three miles a day if it meant putting off the second ice age.

  Although I wish I hadn’t bothered walking to school at all today (not that I had a choice in the matter), because it was terrible. I mean, it’s not usually a barrel of laughs, but it was particularly terrible today. I now have a new enemy. Well, actually, she’s my first ever enemy, but whatever. She’s our new English teacher, Mrs Harrington. We had our first English class today, and I was quite looking forward to it because I like English and I liked our old teacher Miss Ardagh (and not just because she always gave me good marks for essays). But she’s gone off to write a book (which is pretty cool, I suppose, for an English teacher) and the new one is … well.

  It started when she was calling the roll. I was gazing out the window thinking about what I’d wear if we got another No Uniform Day this term when I heard my name. I said ‘here’ and looked out the window again, assuming she’d go straight on to Clare Reading who comes after me in the roll. But she didn’t. She paused, and then she said, Rebecca Rafferty … are you Rosie Carberry’s daughter?’

  I stared at her and said, ‘Um, yeah.’ And then I looked back down at my desk. Everyone knows that my mum is a writer, of course, and some girls in the class used to joke about it last year, but they all got sick of it pretty quickly and I certainly never mention it. The teachers all know too, but none of them have ever mentioned it either, apart from when Mrs Quinn asked me to get Mum to sign a book for her mother who was sick (Mrs Quinn’s mother, of course, not my gran).

  Anyway, I assumed that Mrs Harrington would just go on with the roll. But she didn’t. She grinned at me in a mad way and said, ‘I just love your mammy’s books! I’m a big fan. That’s how I recognised your name – I’d read about you in her interviews. She’s very proud of you and your sister, isn’t she? Now, what’s your sister’s name … Rachel, isn’t it?’

  I just looked at her in horror. But she didn’t care, because she is a scary stalker who probably has a special secret room covered in pictures of my mother. She just kept waffling on about my ‘mammy’s wonderful stories’ and how The Country Garden was her favourite book of all time. And then she said, ‘And I’m sure little Katie and Róisín are based on you and your big sister.’

  Well, I’d been too horrified to speak until now, but I couldn’t let that one go by.

  ‘No,’ I said. ‘My mother never uses us in her books. Ever.’ Besides, little Katie and Róisín were Irish-dancing champions and had ringlets. Urgh. Even the thought of having anything to do with those revolting freaks made me shudder.

  Mrs Harrington, on the other hand, laughed.

  ‘Oh, I’m sure there’s a bit of you in that little Katie! You look very light on your feet.’

  And I was so appalled by this that I literally couldn’t speak.

  I didn’t want to have to say anything else to Mrs Harrington, but I did want to tell her that we never call Mum ‘Mammy’. (I call her ‘Mother’ or ‘Mother dear’ when I’m annoyed with her.) Anyway, Mrs Harrington kept going on about how she hoped I’d inherited my mother’s literary gifts while my so-called friends all sniggered behind their brand new copies of Great Expectations, which we are doing for our Junior Cert. Thank God no teacher went on like this last year when I was brand new to the school and didn’t know anyone but Alice or I’d probably have no friends at all by now (apart from Alice. I hope). Mrs Harrington eventually remembered that this was meant to be an English class rather than a Rosie Carberry book-club meeting, but when the class was over, and I was trying to escape from the classroom as fast as I could, she pounced on me and said she had high hopes of getting some ‘lovely essays from your mammy’s daughter!’

  I can’t take a whole year (or five – oh God, we could have her every year until we leave!) of references to ‘mammy’s lovely books’. She wouldn’t think they were so lovely if she’d heard the way my mum swears every time she realises she has to rewrite something.


  Went to Cass’s after school today. I love going over there; they always have nicer bread than we do. And Cass’s room is much cooler than mine. I really, really want to redecorate my room but Mum and Dad say that I can’t because I only got it done two years ago. As I was twelve then, it is hideous and pink and purple and not cool in any way, shape or form. Cass did her room up this year and it’s brilliant. She has a cool sort of sixties’ lamp and bedside rug from Urban Outfitters. I can’t begrudge her the nice room, though, because she is my friend and she deserves a nice lamp (although so do I, and I don’t have one.). We lay on the rug and had a very deep conversation about Life and What We Want to Do When We Grow Up (Me: Famous artist/actress. Cass: Theatre-set designer. This is a bit mysterious because it’s not like Cass even goes to the theatre very often so I’m not sure why she feels so strongly about designing sets, but there you go) which gradually turned into a conversation about which teachers were the maddest, during which I announced that I hated Mrs Harrington with all my heart. She is getting worse by the day.

  Cass said, ‘I hate her too. I wish she’d stop going on about your “mammy”.’

  ‘Did you hear what she said today?’ I said. “Oooh, you can tell you’re your mammy’s daughter, can’t you? Such a way with words!”.’

  Cass said, ‘She’s sickening.’

  ‘I know,’ I said. ‘She’s my enemy. I think she’s turning the class against me!’

  ‘Oh, come on,’ said Cass. ‘She can’t do that. It’s not like anyone even likes her, and people like you.’

  ‘She can,’ I said. ‘Ellie O’Mahony made some stupid joke about me being a ‘mammy’s girl’ at lunch today. I mean, Ellie! What has she got against me all of a sudden? I thought we were friends. And anyway, she’s a fine one to talk about mammies.’ Ellie’s mother is a total hippie. She became a hippie in the eighties, when being a hippie was not very fashionable. But Ellie’s mum doesn’t care. She has kept on with her hippiness. Some of it has now become accepted by the rest of the world – recycling, making stuff, growing veggies – so it seems that she w
as right all along. In some things. But not in others. She wears a lot of paisley and fabrics that she has handwoven herself (that wouldn’t be quite as bad if she was any good at weaving, but she isn’t), and she plays the lute, and she holds rituals to praise the Earth goddess every spring in their back garden. And Ellie’s name is actually Galadriel, after the elf queen in The Lord of the Rings (only a few people at school know this), and she spent most of her childhood dressed like someone from Middle Earth. So as you can see, her mocking me for having an embarrassing mother is a bit much.

  ‘Aw, I know it’s bad, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it,’ said Cass. ‘Ellie was only joking. I think it’ll blow over. The novelty will have to wear off. And no one will really blame you for the way that stupid loon goes on.’

  But I’m not so sure. They might think I’m encouraging her. They might think I actually like the attention. They might think I’ve always wanted people to make a fuss of me because of what Mum does. They might think I really am like the horrible children in her books.

  I came home from Cass’s and found my mother (source of all my woes) sitting at the kitchen table with a book and a glass of red wine. That’s the second time she’s been drinking wine this week. I hope she isn’t turning into an alcoholic. Lots of writers are, I believe. Anyway, she shouldn’t be carousing in the kitchen, she should be working on her next book. Her new one, The Girl from Braddon Hall, has been out for months and her agent Jocasta always says that she should start her next book before the new book comes out, because once the new book is out there’ll be so much fuss and interviews and stuff it’ll be harder to get started on a new story. And usually Mum starts writing the next book practically the day after she’s finished the last one. But I don’t think my mum has started a new project yet, because whenever she starts something new she always goes on and on about her new plot ideas and sometimes she tests them out on me and Rachel by telling us about them while we’re making the dinner. But she hasn’t mentioned any new story ideas since she finished going through the Braddon Hall proofs months and months ago. I pointed this out to her and she just laughed and said there was nothing to worry about.

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