Jade is so used to being with and agreeing with Vicky, her larger-than-life best friend, that when a tragic accident occurs, she can hardly believe that Vicky's gone. But Vicky is a spunky girl who's not going to let a small thing like death stop her from living life to the fullest. Whether Jade is in school, running, or tentatively trying to make new friends, Vicky makes her presence felt, and it's not always a good thing.
Wilson (The Story of Tracy Beaker, reviewed July 23) here poignantly addresses a tragic and traumatic experience: the death of a friend. Narrator Jude and her friend Vicky are inseparable ("We're going to be best friends for ever and ever and ever, through school, through college, through work"), until one afternoon, when Vicky is hit by a car. But the separation is temporary: after learning at the hospital that Vicky has died, Jude returns to the site of the accident, where she discovers a bouquet of red roses ("It's as if any spilt blood has been magically morphed into sweet-smelling flowers")--as well as Vicky. Guilt-filled (at one point Vicky's mother asks Jude, "Couldn't you have stopped her?"), the grieving girl finds solace in visits from Vicky's ghost. Yet Wilson adds intriguing dimension to her plot, as the apparition intermittently comforts and taunts Jude, sometimes making her laugh and at other times encouraging her to be mean to classmates who try to comfort her. Other characters, too, seem to make light of the events (e.g., Jude's mother wishes to contribute flowers and, upon learning that white lilies were Vicky's favorites, says, "They'll cost a fortune--but it can't be helped, I suppose"). Despite the well-intentioned efforts of teachers and friends, Vicky increasingly becomes a controlling presence from which Jude feels unable to escape. Yet ultimately, the friends do let go, as Jude's narrative reaches an affirming, affecting conclusion. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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April 06, 2003
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Excerpt from Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson
Vicky's my best friend. We're closer than sisters. They call us the Twins at school because we're so inseparable. We've been best friends ever since we were at nursery school together and I crept up to Vicky at the water trough and she pulled a funny face and then tipped her red plastic teapot and started watering me. Vicky got told off for being mean to me but I didn't mind a bit. I just stood still in the sudden downpour, honored at her attention. Mum was cross because my gilt hairslides went rusty but I didn't care. Vicky hadn't said anything but I knew we were now friends. We stayed friends all the way through primary school and then we both went on to Downfield. Even Vicky was a bit quiet that first day in Year Seven when we didn't know anyone else. We know everyone now in Year Nine and they're all desperate to be Vicky's friend but we mostly just stick together, the two of us. We're going to be best friends for ever and ever and ever, through school, through college, through work. It doesn't matter about falling in love. Vicky's already had heaps of boyfriends but no one can ever mean as much to us as each other. We walk to school together, we sit next to each other all day, and after school I either hang out at Vicky's or she comes home with me. I hope Vicky asks me round to her place today. I like her home far more than mine. It's time to go home now but we're checking out this big notice on the cloakroom door about after-school clubs. We've got a new head teacher who's fussed because Downfield is considered a bit of a dump and so he's determined we're all going to do better in our exams and get involved with all these extracurricular activities. "It's bad enough having to go to school," Vicky says. "So who's sad enough to want to stay afterlike, voluntarily?" I nod out of habit. I always agree with Vicky. But I've just read a piece about a new drama club and I can't help feeling wistful. Ever since I was little I've wanted to be an actress. I know it's mad. I'm not anyone special. No one from our housing development ever gets to do anything glamorous or famous, and anyway, even the richest, prettiest, most talented kids can't make a living out of acting. But I just want to act so much. I've never been in anything at all, apart from school stuff. I was an angel in the Nativity play way back in Year Two. Vicky got to be Mary. Miss Gilmore, who's head of English and drama, had us all in, Toad of Toad Hall when we were in Year Seven. I so wanted to be Toad, but Miss Gilmore chose Fatboy Sam. Typecasting. Though he was good. Very good. But I have this mad, totally secret idea that I could have been better. Vicky and I were just woodland creatures. Vicky was a very cute squirrel with an extra-fluffy tail. She did little hops everywhere and nibbled nuts very neatly She got a special cheer and clap at the end. I was a stoat. You can't be cute if you're a stoat. I tried to be a very sly sinister stoat, lurking in the shadows, but Miss Gilmore pushed me forward and said, "Come on, Jade, no need to be shy." I didn't get a chance to explain I was being sly, not shy. I tried not to mind too much. Even Dame Judi Dench would find it hard to get a special cheer if she had to play a stoat. I didn't want to be an animal. I wanted to play a person. When I'm at home on my own-when Vicky's busy and Mum's at work and Dad's asleep- I parade round the living room and act out all the soaps or I'll do Claire Danes' lines in Romeo and Juliet or I'll just make up my own plays. Sometimes I'll act people I know. I always end up acting Vicky. I close my eyes and think about her voice and when I start saying something I sound just like her. I stay Vicky even when I open my eyes. I can feel her long thick bright hair bouncing about my shoulders and my green eyes are glittering and I'm smiling Vicky's wicked grin. I dance up and down the room until I catch sig