Book Review – Girls Under Pressure by Jacqueline Wilson

books, reviews



I’m pleased to announce that I’m currently on book 3 of Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls series. Unfortunately, that is a little bit longer than the rest and I’m quite busy with work stuff at the moment. So, I’m not actually getting as much reading done. I’d been finishing the other books in two nights but this is proving a bit trickier. Still, I’ll get there. I’d actually finished Girls Under Pressure at the weekend but I couldn’t post my review until today. Not that I mind. I loved being one of the stop’s on the Inside the Sun Virtual Book Tour. Although, the time between finishing the book and writing this might explain why it’s proving a bit difficult. Of course, it might also be the fact that this book means a lot to me. It’s something I’ve already addressed here on the blog and it does make me rather biased.

I loved this series when I was a teenager and I this was the book that resonated with me the most. It’s a much more mature novel than the first one and it handles some important issues. I know Jacqueline Wilson has seen a lot of criticism for dealing with such unsavoury topics but I’m glad this novel existed when I was a teenager. It handles the topic of body image and eating disorders in such a delicate and relatable way. In such an important way. In a way that helped me come to terms with my own feelings about the subject when I was a teenager. This is a book that really showed me the awful realities of anorexia in a way that connected to my life. Wilson has an understanding of teenage girls and this series really taps into that mindset.

Ellie and her friends are back in the sequel to Girls In Love and things are changing. The slim and striking Nadine is picked to take part in a modelling competition after being spotted at an audition at a shopping centre. It starts a chain of events that soon leads Ellie down a path of extreme diets and exercise. At the same time, Ellie’s sort-of boyfriend Dan is pulling away from her, her father is acting suspiciously, and her friend Magda is getting into bother with boys. Though, really, all Ellie can think about is her weight. The only ally that she seems to have is Zoe, a girl in the year above. But what will happen when Ellie starts to suspect that Zoe is taking things a little too far?

This has the feel of a completely different book to that last one. It has a much more mature tone but without feeling too heavy. It still has plenty of fun and silliness but Ellie is in a much darker place and the novel isn’t afraid to show the harsh realities of teenage life. The way that Ellie describes herself in this book can be quite difficult and certainly, the second half of the book does get quite hard to deal with. Although, it the whole subject matter is dealt with quite carefully and all of the reactions feel realistic. Wilson goes in hard with her description of eating disorders because it is the best way to get the message across. There is never any sense that she is advocating it but everything is telling the reader that this is not the right course of action. I’d say that this is a must-read for all teenagers as body issues can affect anyone.

Of course, the book has more to offer than just advice about body image. It deals with subjects concerning fitting in, dating and reputation. When Nadine finds herself on track to become a model, she desperately tries to fit in with what they want. She changes the way she looks to get into a magazine. Her friends can see how foolish she’s being but Nadine is swept away with the idea of fame and escaping her family. Then there’s Magda who discovers that her flirty nature has gained her quite a reputation. When she pursues an older man, Magda finds herself in a difficult situation.

This book is one that deals with image and identity. As a teenager, your sense of self can be impacted by everything around you. Not only that but the way other people perceive you can be difficult to deal with. A single comment from one stranger can suddenly change the way that you see yourself. But Wilson is sympathetic in her portrayal of teenage troubles. She cares and wants to help. It doesn’t always make for pleasant reading but it is handled well. This is a book that realistically portrays some of the aspects of teenage life as I remember them. Whilst some of the novel seems outdated, there is still plenty to be gained from this book.

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