That’s Jacqueline Wilson’s diary, before you get too excited. I’ve never been able to sustain a diary for long. Neither did Jacqueline, from what she says, but she wrote a lot at the start of each year, and much more than I ever did. Now I wish I had, because even the diaries of a bestselling author like Jacqueline Wilson were a little immature. And that’s the whole point, except you don’t realise until it’s too late.
My Secret Diary is primarily about the year Jacqueline was 14, and what a beautiful slice of recent modern history it is! In a strange way it reminds me of my own childhood, even if this book is set ten years earlier and in another country. The similarities are greater than the differences.
I would expect all her fans to love this teen memoir, as it’s about someone they love very much, but I would hope this book will be read by many others, too, and by adults who couldn’t care less about Tracy Beaker or any of Jacqueline’s other characters. I almost suggested the Resident IT Consultant should read it, but maybe, just maybe, it’s too girlie. For any female reader of almost any age, this is first class nostalgia.
Hopeless parents, good friends and bad friends, stupid teachers, books and films, and boys. It’s all here. In a way, people never change. We can all recognise ourselves and our friends and family in My Secret Diary. It’s the period of England around 1960 which comes to life here. It’s not a fictional England, nor is it the well-to-do classes. It’s normal life.
The photos from the family album add a lot to the book. It makes the reader feel they are there talking to someone in person and looking through their photo album and having people and places pointed out to them. And looking at herself from the vantage point of 2009, I hope Jacqueline can see what a pretty girl she was. We all think we were nothing special, but in every picture I see a smiling young girl, wearing interesting, authentically ‘retro’ clothes.
I could have gone on reading this forever. I know I wanted a sequel after Jacky Daydream, which left Jacqueline at the age of 11, and now I have, but I still want more. Please, can we read more about Jacqueline Aitken?