Yep, another review and another Jacqueline Wilson book. If you’ve been paying attention to my Sunday Rundowns lately, you’ll remember that I recently bought this series of books after I discovered that there was a mystery fourth book. Okay, not a mystery book but a book that I hadn’t read. I also found out that the books had been republished with some absolutely beautiful covers. Of course, these two bits of news meant that I had to buy them all. I started reading the first in the series as soon as I’d finished The Lottie Project because I wanted to keep the nostalgic vibe going. I’ve already talked about one of the books in this series for my 30 Books For My 30th series because they genuinely meant a lot to me. They almost perfectly captured what I felt as a teenager. I was awkward, chubby, and a bit quiet. I’d never identified with a fictional character as much as that before. Okay, when I was little I thought I was Alice from Alice in Wonderland but that was only because my middle name is Alice. It’s not the same. So, I was a bit worried about revisiting these books. What if they didn’t live up? What if they were actually shit and I was just an idiot for loving them? I had to find out.
Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls series of books follows teenager Ellie Allard and her two best friends, Nadine and Magda. The first book in the series involves that all-important teenage girl issues: boys. When Ellie’s oldest friend, Nadine, gets a boyfriend she is shocked. So shocked that she makes up her own boyfriend. To stop her friends looking down on her, Ellie pretends that the nerdy boy she met on holiday, Dan, is actually a gorgeous dreamboat. However, Ellie quickly learns that having a secret boyfriend is pretty difficult to keep track of. But she soon learns from Nadine and Magda, real boyfriends aren’t all they’re cracked up to be either.
Girls in Love is the perfect read for any teenage girl because it so wonderfully describes what it’s like to be a teenage girl. Yes, maybe some of the language feels a bit off but that’s always the case when adults write from the perspective of young people. The main thing is that Jacqueline Wilson understands what it’s like for young girls growing up. There is never any sense of judgement within these pages. The girls fawn over attractive men, gossip, daydream, and care about being cool. Yet there is never any sense that they’re doing the wrong thing. It’s all just very natural. Even when they make mistakes, Wilson doesn’t shame the characters. This is a book that shows you that its okay to make mistakes and also that it’s possible to learn from them.
As a teenager, these books always felt very easy to relate to. Ellie isn’t the beautiful and popular girl. She’s not overly clever and she’s got issues with the way she looks. Her friends think she’s great just as she is but Ellie is full of the same worries and doubts that I was. That every teenage girl is full of. She’s not always nice to everyone and is particularly awful to her father and stepmother. But she is a good person. Wilson writes about realistic characters who we can understand. They aren’t overly mature, which is a problem with a lot of teen fiction.
Ultimately, this is a great read for younger readers. It’s not a difficult or time-consuming read but it’s not overly simplistic either. Well, maybe for a 32-year old. There is plenty of humour within the book and it’s not overly sentimental. It’s a novel that contains real-life issues and presents them in a way that will readers come to terms with them in their own lives. As well as Ellie’s own problems, we see the cracks within her father’s new marriage. Ellie sees the problems as stemming from her step-mother but, the more she discovers, the more she realises that appearances can be deceptive. Enough is going on in this book to keep a reader occupied but not so much that it’s too full. This is the perfect light read. The themes that Wilson addresses are still as relevant today as they ever were. This is from a series of books that I was glad to read growing up and it’s good to see that they still hold up now.