Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson: Berg’s Book Club

Book cover for the book Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson. Two girls reading a book. The 'S' each hold a set of keys.

Book Title: Secrets
Book Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Date Published: May 2003
Publisher: Corgi
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Realism
Star Rating: ★★★★

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to Berg’s Book Club—the only book club that has a polar bear assistant! With university on Christmas Break, I have decided to use some of my time by reading. Oh, how I have missed being able to read. The first book I have read for the new year (and for quite a long time) is Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson.

I have decided to use this book for this years Book Reading Challenge. For those of you who don’t know, Little Sea Bear has created it’s own reading challenge for the new year, which you can find here.

Secrets fits the first challenge for me:

A book with a title that ends with your first initial (or the next consonant if your first initial is something like J).

-2019 Book Challenge

With S being my initial, there are many books to choose, but I have always liked Jacqueline Wilson books, aside from Midnight, I also wanted something light after the heavy reading at university. So, Secrets seemed like the perfect book to me.

Treasure used to live with her mom, her siblings and her stepdad, Terry. That is, until Terry hit her with his belt. Now she lives with her nan and aunts and uncle. But Treasure’s mom wants her to return home.

India is a private-school girl, with her posh uniform and grand house, but she is lonely and friendless. Her mother shames her about her weight and her dad has stopped spending time with her.

These girls meet and connect, but when Terry threatens to take Treasure away, the girls act fast, using Ann Frank’s diary as inspiration.

Secrets Book Review

Thoughts

I loved this story and found it intriguing, the two worlds of these girls, their loneliness, and then the world of Ann Frank just mixed well together. However, the one aspect that very slightly let the book down is the step-parent being the abusive parent. There are many stories like this. But as someone who has read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson books, I know she has also wrote a lot of books where stepparents are good and supportive, such as The Longest Whale Song. So it didn’t bother me so much.

One thing I love about Wilson books are the aspects of realism. Wilson does not try to censor kids from the awful things that happen in the world, and I think this is great. Children aren’t stupid, they know the world has problems, so seeing a child struggling but overcoming the issue can help a child feel comforted. She doesn’t always get it right. I feel the death in My Sister Jodie went too far and it also felt rushed at the end. However, Secrets has a perfect balance. A child afraid for her friend’s safety hides her friend from the danger but is unaware of how dangerous her friend’s disability can be.

Characters

Treasure

Treasure has a diary where she expresses her hatred for her stepfather. This leads to him attacking her, which is probably not the first time that this had happened. However, Treasure’s nan comes to visit and sees Treasure’s gash and takes Treasure away. But Treasure can’t believe that she doesn’t have to go back, especially when Terry threatens to come and get her.

I can imagine a girl who seems timid and afraid. I can imagine how she feels that she isn’t worth anything, isn’t pretty, doesn’t deserve love. And I can imagine the strength she discovers she had all along. Similar happens to India.

India

India is bullied by her mother because she is overweight. Her mother constantly compares India to the children who are modelling the clothes that India’s mom had designed. India is lonely at school and is unable to make friends easily. Other kids try to stay away from her.

However, India is able to discover more about her home life and the life of her parents with Treasure’s help. She begins to realise that the life her parents have shunted are not too different from the lives they actually live themselves, and she sees their flaws.

Treasure and India are just as strong as most of Wilson’s other characters. I could see Treasure as a timid girl afraid that her nan’s promise of safety is not forever and I could see India as a bookworm girl who is confused by the world surrounding her. These characters are parallels of each other

Treasure escapes from her abusive home by moving in with her nan and her nan’s younger children. Similarly, India escapes from the emotional abuse of her mom and the stress of the world by reading Ann Frank’s diary. They both need a friend who can help them and that just happens to be each other.

Nan

Nan is described as young and it is suggested that young pregnancy runs in the family. Nan’s youngest child is seven year’s old. Her second oldest (15-16) has a child and they both live with Nan.

Nan loves and cherries her children and Grandchildren and is concerned about Treasure when she visits her eldest daughter’s home near Christmas. Her concern leads her to take Treasure to the hospital and then back to her home, where a bed is made up for Treasure. When Terry threatens to fetch Treasure, Nan keeps Treasure out of the house to protect her but Treasure disappears.

Nan becomes worried because of Treasure’s asthma, aware that Treasure did not have it on her. I feel that Nan is a believable character, her dialogue is well-written and her concern for Treasure feels genuine.

Plot

I loved the plot. The idea that two children read a book and were inspired by it to try and save their friend’s life, it just fascinated me. I was glad that Wilson highlighted the dangers of actually doing this. Both, the health risks and by how it could potentially ruin the life of somebody (as a man was falsely accused of Treasure’s murder.

However, I do wonder why Nan didn’t go straight to the school when Treasure disappeared to question India about her whereabouts.

Overall, I felt the plot was light-hearted, enjoyable and engaging. The reader didn’t need to know much about Ann Frank to enjoy this book as the important aspects for the story were explained.


Thanks for Reading!

If you enjoyed this post, then please do read some other book reviews on here. I recommend the following:

But if none of those take your fancy, do click Berg’s Book Club on the menu to find other book reviews. And please do follow Little Sea Bear on facebook or twitter

~Shannon~

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Leave a Reply

7 replies

  1. An excellent review. I’m just curious – is your criticism of the stepparent being abusive based on it being a (potentially harmful) cliche/stereotype? Because personally I believe it is an aspect of realism and a reality for many children, and Wilson often writes kind stepparents and abusive blood relatives so I’m not sure I think this one is an issue. I know you said it’s a small thing, I’m just curious!

    Also personally I liked how the death was handled in My Sister Jodie. It showed that death can be sudden and shocking, in my opinion, and that book at an older target audience than many of her others, IMO, regardless.

    Really great review. I’ve missed reading these.

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