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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?

rabbitlady Wed 17-Jul-13 22:52:03

i don't know why people allow that woman's drivel to be put into print.

rabbitlady Wed 17-Jul-13 22:53:19

at fourteen, i was reading jean genet. my daughter was reading Irvine welsh at that age. get your daughter something decent to read.

ArtemisatBrauron Wed 17-Jul-13 23:00:51

a worrying I wondered the same thing! Isn't there a scene in one of the books where the main character has to flee from her preppy boyfriend's lakeside cabin because he is trying to rape her?! hmm

I loved those books, somehow the full impact of some of the themes was obviously lost on me

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Wed 17-Jul-13 23:02:27

flatpack, that's a bit different. This AIBU is clearly about a book aimed at teens not an adult book teens have stumbled across.

euro, the head teacher is aware that it was somewhat reciprocal as she says there could be a court case had she been another type of head teacher and he would lose his job i.e. if she reported it as she should.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 17-Jul-13 23:04:24

I have to say, i agree with Oscar Wilde.

I too read ALL sorts as a pre-teen/ teen. I'm very opinionated about what my children are allowed to watch, but I really don't see too much harm, or influence coming to them from what they read.

NannyPlumIsMyMum Wed 17-Jul-13 23:04:58

I was very dubious at first about JW books - but my DD is an advanced reader and was fed up with what school were sending her home with.

So we have an agreement that DD free reads now her own books.

They have all been JW ones and my DD loves them because they deal with real life issues . No princesses or make believe lands for her!

I have enjoyed the stories that she has read : Sleepover, The Mum Minder , The Suitcase Kid . Am grateful to JW for re starting my DDs love of reading again.
School had got her on quite dull chapter books about guinea pigs etc so she lost all interest.

cory Thu 18-Jul-13 00:08:11

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Wed 17-Jul-13 11:12:12
"cory, teenagers may be supposed to have the maturity to analyse other books with dubious content but I assume if its part of the curriculum they do it with some sort of guidance and discussion with adults to help them notice and understand the issues. A teenager (or child) reading Love Lessons might not have access to discussion about it or not have an adult who prereads it and brings up the topic with their child."

But if you are a parent aware enough to be checking your dd's reading and banning certain books, why can't you have that discussion with your child instead?

And if you are not, then you won't be banning the book in the first place.

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Thu 18-Jul-13 00:33:32

Did you read any of my posts, cory? I'll repeat myself for one last time just in case you haven't.

I don't support banning books. There will be many teenagers who read this book alone with no parental input or discussion. I read it alone as a teen with no adult input because I would read many books in a week (sometimes two or three a day) and my mum would have had a hard time policing what I read as a result. I didn't bring the book to my mums attention as I did not realise it was a story about abuse so as far as I was concerned, what was there to discuss? When the main character was victim blamed, it didnt resonate with me because I had no experience or knowledge of abuse.

My concerns are for the children reading who do have knowledge of abuse or who may be being abused. If they read a book like this and recognise it as abuse, they will also recognise that the child was blamed for the adult's actions. That in turn could make them think they would also be blamed and may influence them to not tell someone they are being abused or to seek help from a "safe" adult like a head teacher. That is why I think JW should have included a note or set of discussion topics at the end (like some adult authors do like Jodi Picoult) so that the reader can understand that the head teacher should not have blamed Prue and action should have been taken against the teacher.

Tl;dr version.
Not banning books. Explaining content for lone readers who don't have access to discussion.

Lazyjaney Thu 18-Jul-13 00:50:58

What interests me more is that when these books were written it was romance, now it's considered abuse in some quarters a generation later. In another generation the age of consent will be 14 or 15 and teen readers will be scratching their heads to work out the plot as it will be irrelevant.

There was a woman on Womens Hour today saying that sexual mores change even faster than social ones, this bears her out.

Louise1956 Sun 21-Jul-13 19:21:45

i haven't read it but it sounds appalling. teachers should not be snogging 14 year old girls under any circumstances, and that he is a married man makes it even worse. to write about this as if it is okay is really not on.

Raindrops0nRoses Sun 21-Jul-13 21:38:54

Scarily I remember reading this book as a young teenager and not batting an eyelid when all of the blame was placed on the girl. Nor did I really think the teacher behaved inappropriately... The way it is written tries to make out that it is the girl who is lacking in judgement, rather than the teacher.
Big wake up call! Definitely won't be allowing JW in my house!

ohdearnevermind Sun 21-Jul-13 22:54:45

I've just finished a children's literature course- there was a great quote that I'll try to find about censorship. It basically said that children and teens tend to 'self-censor' when reading e.g. that they skipped over things that they didn't understand or didn't want to deal with. I remember reading one of my mum's book at about 10 and not understanding about 80% of it, but not wanting to try and find out more!

FayeTurner123 Mon 31-Mar-14 21:57:13

I'm sorry, but Jacqueline Wilson is a very skilled author. She addresses issues in her books that others would avoid, and she does it fabulously. She really gets into the mind of the character, which most of the protagonists are aged 9-16. Also, 'Love Lessons' is one of the books aimed at older readers, as it says on the synopsis on the back.
She is highly successful and her writing style is distinctive amongst others; books such as cliffhanger are better suited to children. wine

FayeTurner123 Mon 31-Mar-14 21:58:36

Also, she's not writing about it 'as if it's okay': she is writing about it to WARN GIRLS. Get a grip

rabbitlady Mon 31-Mar-14 22:42:29

are you her agent? thread died months ago. her writing is poor, her storylines distasteful. she isn't warning, she's titillating and prompting inappropriate fantasy.

jellybeans Mon 31-Mar-14 22:56:46

YABU. I wouldn't have a problem with it. My kids read JW. Why would teens not have books about what they (some readers) want to read? Why should they have to read only what adults deem they may want to read? Why should everything be sanitised?

JohnCusacksWife Mon 31-Mar-14 22:57:38

This book doesn't sound good, I agree, but please don't write off JW on the basis of this one book. The Hetty Feather series has been hugely educational and inspirational for my DD. Some of her other books deal very sensitively with issues like disability, friendship, bullying, death etc.....all written in an accessible style suitable for younger readers.

jellybeans Thu 03-Apr-14 12:36:30

Who should decide what is suitable or teens, parents or teens themselves? Should it be entertaining or moralising?

JerseySpud Thu 03-Apr-14 12:58:19

Im :O at the amount of people who have read the stuff. I feel old.

Then again at age 10-12 i was reading Judy Blume... and she was just as bad!

morethanpotatoprints Thu 03-Apr-14 13:05:25

Maybe we should have a cull and burn all JW books. My dd has asked for them and I'm so glad I got her to read other stuff.
At least parents know now and if they continue to buy the books its up to them.

gordyslovesheep Thu 03-Apr-14 13:07:06

burning books hmm seriously

at least some parents allow their children choice in what they read

squoosh Thu 03-Apr-14 13:10:28

If kids want to read Jacqueline Wilson let them read them. Nothing I hated more as a child than someone telling me which books were 'good' for me and which were 'bad'. I read Flowers in the Attic and lived to tell the tale.

Objection Thu 03-Apr-14 13:40:49

JW books really messed with my head as a child.
I think it was "dustbin kid" where the main character accidentally pushed another child down the stairs and she became crippled or something.

JW are nasty nasty nasty. I loved them as a child for some reason but so many of the themes haunted me.

Bear in mind that I read Flowers in the Attic and the series at 12 and also read Clan of the Cave Bear etc at a similar age

morethanpotatoprints Thu 03-Apr-14 14:38:48


My dc have always had choice in what they read.
My dd chooses all her books herself, it would be hard to stop her I think.
Steering into suitable books isn't difficult, you should try it. They believe they have chosen it themselves then grin

megemb Mon 19-May-14 15:38:16

I know this is an old thread but I just had to comment. When I was a teen at secondary school (from when I was about fifteen) I was one of those who always, always got crushes on the teachers. Some of them were just very minor, 'thought they were cute but it never got in the way' kind of crushes and some were pretty huge, 'I can't even speak to you please love me where do you live' kind of crushes.

I was very shy and never would have acted on any of the crushes (there must have been at least four) but I found them hard to deal with as not only did I develop crushes, as I respected all my teachers very much my emotional feelings for these guys also got quite intense.

I found that reading 'Love Lessons' actually really helped. It was as though JW understood and she didn't give it all the 'DON'T ACT ON IT HE WILL GO TO PRISON HIS LIFE WILL BE DESTROYED' stuff you normally get when seeking advice for this stuff. Nearly every teen with a crush on a teacher knows that already and those kinds of reactions just make them feel confused and ashamed. What Jacqueline did was explore a relationship like this from the point of a teenage girl and then, continuing in that character, showed sympathetically why those kinds of relationships always end in tears.

This would be much more effective in deterring this kind of behaviour as what she cleverly does is presents herself as being on Prue's side (Prue being the girl who falls for her teacher in the book) throughout, presenting to anyone reading it the idea that yes, if you liked a teacher and your teacher then acted on that it would just feel great. I mean let's face it, when I was at that age if one of my teachers had showed he liked me back I would have been ecstatic, not scared. She is on-side with that and understands that in that situation, a girl doesn't want to report her teacher. She wants to be loved. She wants what he can't give her; a healthy relationship with no emphasis on age or whether it's appropriate. She acknowledges this, then shows through Prue's eyes why it is impossible.

To me, this book is not encouraging students to pursue relationships with teachers; it is identifying with a common teen issue and showing why it has to always remain just a crush and never a relationship. By allowing them to go on this journey with Prue, they can almost live our their fantasy through her and then end the book feeling like they understand everything that happened.

I think JW is actually doing everyone a service. Reading this book helped me so much; instead of loitering by my teachers' classrooms in lunch hours or stalking them on Facebook at home, I would just read the book instead. It dealt with all my 'crush on teacher' urges and feelings and helped me go through them, experience them and, really, obsess over them in a much healthier way.

Just a thought anyway.

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