Jacqueline Wilson’s problem novels have earned critical and popular acclaim for their realistic, reader-centred approach to the difficult psychological, social and familial issues that children and teens face. In her article “‘So Good It’s Exhilarating”: The Jacqueline Wilson Phenomenon’, Kay Waddilove observes that it is ‘the “situations” in her books that have made Wilson one of the most controversial, as well as popular, authors of the twenty-first century’.1 Waddilove offers examples such as eating disorders, abandonment, mental and physical illness, paedophilia and emotional abuse, and there are several others that could be added to this list, including divorce, death, sex, financial worries and bullying. While controversial, such issues are hardly unique to Wilson’s work and have appeared frequently as the subject matter of problem novels in the Anglophone world since the mid-twentieth century, when books such as Judy Blume’s became enormously influential. The focus of this chapter is to locate Wilson’s contributions within the broader context of the problem novel genre in Anglophone literature for children and teens during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries by examining her work in relation to that of her US predecessor, Blume, to whom Wilson is often compared in American popular and social media.
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