cover image VICKY ANGEL


Jacqueline Wilson, , illus. by Nick Sharratt. . Delacorte, $15.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-385-72920-8

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. (Sept.)