For late 90s/early 2000s nostalgia (a similar timeframe to the brilliant Darren Shan saga) I picked up Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls in Love. I remember it being a TV show years ago although, like Tracy Beaker (another Wilson book), it wasn’t much like the novel.
There are four books in the Girls quartet: Girls in Love, Girls Under Pressure, Girls Out Late, and Girls in Tears. Most of Jacqueline Wilson’s books are about girls around 8-11 years old, but in this series we follow Ellie, who is 13, and her two best friends in the same year at school.
These stories really reminded me of being a teenager. No mobile phones or iPads, lots of drawing and reading, and the very early times of having one computer per household (any other 90s kids remember the “computer room?”).
In Girls in Love, Ellie and her two best friends, Magda and Nadine, all get boyfriends… kind of. Nadine dates an older guy, Magda is a little jealous of said guy and chases after a boy at another school, and Ellie, self-conscious and green with envy, makes up a boyfriend, named after the dopy and nerdy boy Dan she met on holiday and based on her gorgeous neighbour.
We got to learn a lot about Magda, Nadine, and Ellie in this book. Like many of Wilson’s main characters, she is shy, creative, and self-conscious. She loves to draw and is worried about her friends (who, in her opinion, are much prettier and cooler).
Girls Under Pressure was much more serious. Ellie develops an obsession with her weight, which threatens to turn into something more serious.
Wilson has an excellent way of writing from the eyes of a teenager, and many people can probably relate to how Ellie is feeling.
I also enjoyed Girls Out Late, where Ellie gets her first proper boyfriend!
I’m not sure whether I really like him or not. He tends to get jealous of Ellie’s friendship with the girls and demands a lot of her attention. Still, it’s perhaps more realistic as he’s only 16.
Girls in Tears is heart-wrenchingly sad and I actually felt angry and upset myself while I was reading it.
Ellie deals with family problems, her friends having private jokes, and even betrayal from her boyfriend. It shows how difficult life can be for teenagers and Wilson delivers it perfectly.
I like these books a lot, and it was fun to engage in some nostalgia in the week it took me to read them. If you have a teenager, she might like these books.