Books that changed my life: Jacqueline Wilson

Reader's Digest Editors

Jacqueline Wilson is a children’s author whose Tracy Beaker series are some of the most-loaned library books in the UK. Her latest book, My Mum Tracy Beaker is published by Doubleday

The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett

I bought this book with my pocket money when I was seven. I was probably attracted by the pretty pink-and-white cover on the Puffin paperback. There were many illustrations inside too, most of which I carefully coloured with my Lakeland pencils. These children weren’t curly-haired and confident like the ones in my other books. They didn’t live in big houses and sail boats and play lacrosse at boarding school. They were ordinary children like me, with wispy hair and sagging hems and plimsolls. I knew I was going to love this revolutionary children’s book.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I stumbled across Jane Eyre when I was ten, when I couldn’t find anything I fancied reading on my own bedroom shelf. I raided my parents’ bookcase instead, liking the look of their small leatherette copy. But as soon as I got started on the story, I raced through the first nine chapters, when Jane was a little girl. I was horrified by Jane’s hateful cousins and furious when she was sent away to a terrible school. Never mind the later Rochester romance and the mad wife in the attic! 

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

My old copy is falling to bits because I’ve read it so many times. Plath’s cool, almost clinical prose tells the story of a bright American college girl whose life unravels one strange summer. Her use of surprising imagery makes every page startle. It can be seen as one of the first great feminist novels, but it’s no tract. I’ve recently bought Plath’s collected letters and they tell the same story—but The Bell Jar hones her experiences into a sharp and poetic masterpiece.