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To be horrified by this Jacqueline Wilson book and the message it sends to teens?

(175 Posts)
AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Fri 21-Jun-13 14:25:36

At the moment in on a bit of a nostalgia kick book wise and have been reading all my old Jacqueline Wilson books. I've just finished rereading Love Lessons. Its about a lonely teenager (14) who falls "in love" with her male teacher who reciprocates the feelings and acts upon them.

Basically she confesses that she "loves him" and when they are alone in his car after babysitting, she kisses him and he kisses her back. He tells her that he has been fantasising about her at night and wishing they could be together. At the end of the book, the girl is asked to leave the school so the teacher can stay. On the walk home, the teacher catches her to say he loves her but he's staying with his wife.

When I read this as a teenager, I thought it was romantic and a really sad love story but now as an adult, all I can think is what on earth was JW thinking?! Teenage girls always get crushes on teachers but its like this book is saying to try and act on it because some teachers might love you back.

And then when the girl is asked to leave the school, the things the head teacher says to her are appalling. Quotes:

"You should have thought of that before you started acting in this ridiculous and precocious manner. If I were another kind of head teacher I would have Mr Raxberry instantly suspended. There could even be a court case. He would not only lose his job, he could find himself in very serious trouble. Did you ever stop to think about that?" --> is complete victim blaming and ignoring (and failing to report) abuse.

The girl says "none of this was his fault." and the head teacher says "I'm inclined to believe you." Again blaming the girl for what happened.

Its like JW is saying that a 14 year old girl could be responsible for an adult male risking his job and taking advantage of a pupil. Like she should have been the one to say no. And she's also saying that people in authority (the people someone abused should confide in) might think that way too. What will girls reading that book think?

At no point does JW use the story to explain that this is abuse, the girl is a victim and that the teacher is responsible for the situation and not the girl.

AIBU to be horrified by this book and disappointed in Jacqueline Wilson?

Remotecontrolduck Fri 21-Jun-13 15:27:03

My main problem with it was that nothing happened to the teacher! It all ended on a rather romantic note, that may make young girls think that this sort of relationship is ok and can work out, or is romantic.

The girl protagonist is very odd too, very childish. It's an odd book, JW has done some thought provoking and interesting stuff, but this was a massive mistake.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 15:27:28

SPB - old enough to have read these books to other people's children rather than read them myself!

MadBusLady Fri 21-Jun-13 15:45:21

shock shock shock

I assumed you meant you read it as a teenager in the 70s or something, but I just googled it and it seems to have been published in 2005??

The same year incidentally that she became Children's Laureate.

I'm gobsmacked.

needaholidaynow Fri 21-Jun-13 15:49:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FoundAChopinLizt Fri 21-Jun-13 15:49:42

My Dd8 is reading the Hetty Feather series, about the Foundling hospital in London. I haven't actually read them myself, but they seem to be ok, maybe because they're set back in time.

I agree that story line sounds awful.

LastTangoInDevonshire Fri 21-Jun-13 15:53:16

So, OP, you read it as a teen and thought it romantic etc. Therefore, the conclusion is that it didn't do you any harm.

All you've done is grow up and grow out of JW. Stop knocking what didn't harm you.

miffybun73 Fri 21-Jun-13 15:55:07

YANBU, sounds horrific.

I think that I must be too old to have read any of these.

Never heard of Jacqueline Wilson. I'm 39.

SillyTilly123 Fri 21-Jun-13 15:55:41

My dd (9) has just started reading the JW books but ive not read any at all and now im wondering whether i should continue to let her. The one she is reading at the minute is called Kiss or something. Is that one ok? Jeez what happened to Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina and Timmy? I can't remember anything like that in those books. (though in true juvenile style i used to always laugh at the name "Dick")

MadBusLady Fri 21-Jun-13 16:00:44

So, OP, you read it as a teen and thought it romantic etc. Therefore, the conclusion is that it didn't do you any harm.

That is genuinely some of the worst logic I have ever heard on the internet.

StealthPolarBear Fri 21-Jun-13 16:09:19

Yes, I once went out without a seatbelt on and didn't die. Therefore seatbelts do not save lives.
Ditto I once put baby DS to sleep on his front therefore SIDS advice is wrong.
My Grandad smoked like a chimney and lived to be 90 so smoking doesn't cause cancer.

NeverFinishWhatYouStarted Fri 21-Jun-13 16:19:14

JW is not writing how-to guides or preachy morality tales. She's writing realistic stories about things that are familiar/relatable/interesting to young teens. She's not meant to be a good or bad influence, just a storyteller. And although I haven't read it, it sounds more plausible than your usual, trite, good-always-triumphs stuff that we feed to kids.

Also, it sounds like the lesson (not that any author has a responsibility to teach a lesson) is better for the realism: "don't get involved with an adult because you'll lose out, not them" is an insight that many of her readers will relate to. Victim blaming and failure to report abuse is more likely than a happy-ever-after ending.

I envy your innocence if, at 14, you read this as a romantic story.

CbeebiesIsMyLife Fri 21-Jun-13 16:19:51

Ditto I've said I read it as a teen and it didn't even occur to me she was a victim.

What I didn't say is I've been abused and have blamed myself my whole life. I figured it was my fault, I should have done something.
I'm finally realising I was wrong. I'm getting psychotherapy to help. This book wouldn't have helped. Maybe if the book I read spelled out it is NEVER the child's fault and always the adults, even if that child is 14, 2 or 17. The adult is always to blame, I may not be where I am today. I may not have kept it secret for years, I may have gotten help, reported him and let him face the consequences of his actions rather than thinking it was all my fault.

This book is not right, it gives out the wrong message and IMO should not be in print in libraries or able to buy on amazon. It makes me very sad. Like I said earlier jw books will be banned from my house, my girls are only 1 and 2 but I will also never let them reads book I haven't read as an adult.

I am very great full to the op for pointing this out to me as I didn't realise, I'd forgotten about this book and it will make me a more careful, better parent.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 21-Jun-13 16:21:54

JW books are known for being controversial. I wouldn't have a problem with my dc reading it when they are old enough, but I'd want to know about it and read them myself so we could discuss it properly.

Teacher/student relationships are not that uncommon unfortunately, so I do think it's a reasonable topic for a teen book.

adeucalione Fri 21-Jun-13 17:18:50

Love Letters does sound irresponsible but teacher/pupil relationships are not an uncommon theme in teen books.

If you look at Love Letters on Amazon it will give you a load of similar recommendations, which may deal with the topic more realistically I suppose, although the various blurbs don't sound particularly encouraging in that regard.

I can only assume that this subject matter, handled romantically rather than responsibly, appeals - and sells - to teens.

TheMagicKeyCanFuckOff Fri 21-Jun-13 17:19:10

i have read that and read it not in the same way, more as a quite sad but often true tale. I think there isn't any morals but it tells a more plausible story line and is aimed at older children and is meant to make people realise how unfair some situations can be. I didn't read it as approving f that in any way.

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Fri 21-Jun-13 17:58:40

I think that my main issue with the book is the fact that the girl gets all the blame. JW knows her books will be read by thousands of children some of whom will be abused and some of those will be abused in similar situations to the girl in this book. And JW chose to reinforce the idea that if you tell, you won't be helped, you will be blamed instead which is the message many abusers give to their victims to keep them quiet about their abuse. I respect the idea that she's just a storyteller and not meant to influence either way but as a children's storyteller, she must be aware of what a massive influence she could potentially have on the children who read her books? So to have that kind of power and use it to tell a story where the abuser gets away does horrify me. It might be true that yes abusers do get away with it in real life too but she could have taken this chance to use teen-teacher relationships to make a difference as well as money.

livinginwonderland Fri 21-Jun-13 19:19:05

I remember reading that in around 2001 and thinking it was a bit creepy.

SplitHeadGirl Fri 21-Jun-13 19:30:28

I feel old. When I was a kid I read Sweet Valley High!! I have no idea who this Wilson person is.

piratecat Fri 21-Jun-13 19:33:46

dd has loads of her books, i shall not be allowing that one. can't believe it!

8dayweek Fri 21-Jun-13 19:35:01

I vaguely remember reading this, and other JW books - I seem to recall there being a few pages in the back of most of the books which discussed the serious issues brought up in the story, kind of like a conversation prompt for parents to use afterwards?

lljkk Fri 21-Jun-13 19:36:12

... Don't Stand So, Don't Stand So, Don't Stand so Close to Me.

Ezza1 Fri 21-Jun-13 19:40:38

Foundachopinlizt I'm pretty sure Hetty Feather deals with death so be prepared for any questions arising. My DD really enjoyed it but did find it sad.

I really dislike JW but shes not a lot different from Judy Blume which I used to read as a pre teen.

NeverFinishWhatYouStarted Fri 21-Jun-13 19:45:03

But it's like saying that Shakespeare was irresponsible by writing about two teenagers who kill themselves because they can't be together, or Harper Lee by writing about an innocent man who ends up dead because of a racist jury, or John Steinbeck when one of his characters shoots his friend dead and appears to get away with it. All of those stories are routinely read and enjoyed by young teenagers.

One of the marvellous things about fiction is that it allows both author and reader to explore possibilities without having to actually experience events themselves. I think most kids reading a story like that would be angry about the treament of the protagonist. I understand that recent events would have any parent worried about their child crushing on a predatory adult, but that's no reason to be hysterical about a book.

Macdog Fri 21-Jun-13 19:49:59


whois Fri 21-Jun-13 20:00:27

Everything NeverFinishWhatYouStarted said.

You sound like a bunch of idiots calling for a book boring because the story doesn't fit with your idea of right and wrong. It's a STORY! And you're meant to think, to talk about themes and events.

FYI my primary school banned Enid Blyton because her books are sexist. I have very little sympathy with that kind of attitude.

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