Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 384
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 shares many of its themes with other classic stories for young adults. It is written in Adrian's own voice and tracks his struggles through early teenage life, puberty, and first love. The themes of the story are intended to resonate with a reader of a similar age to Adrian, although adult readers will also find much to enjoy in the story and may see their younger selves in Adrian and his concerns.
A key point of humor in this book is that Adrian, being so young, is unable to correctly interpret the political events of the day; but in this humor, an important point is raised. While important issues like the Falklands War and the Prime Ministership of Margaret Thatcher are often difficult for Adrian to understand, this does not mean he does not have an interest in them. One of the key themes of Townsend's writing is the intellectual curiosity of young people—although Adrian does not quite understand what is going on around him, he does not deserve to be treated like an idiot, as he sometimes is by the adults in his life. Townsend interrogates the way adults relate to teenagers and returns again and again to the theme of disconnect with parents that exists as children enter adolescence. Adrian is becoming his own person, but he is not yet treated as one.
Another key theme in the book is first love and the other trials and tribulations of puberty. Adrian spends a lot of his time being worried about his physical development while, at the same time, falling passionately in love with his classmate Pandora. For Adrian, this experience is far more important than any of the world events that are happening around him. It is all-encompassing and occupies much of Adrian's thoughts.
The theme of parental discord is also prevalent in the book. Adrian himself often does not get on with his parents, but he is more perceptive than his parents think he is about the relationship between his mother and father. Like any teenager, Adrian does not wish to live in what he terms a "broken home," and the relationship between his parents, as it becomes more turbulent, affects him deeply. This is something which many young readers will identify with.
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