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The Diamond Girls

by Jacqueline Wilson

I guess most of Jacqueline Wilson's books are pretty much addictive/required reading for older girls and younger teens. I usually like them too. She does have a penchant for looking in dark corners of life and finding warmth, humor and love amongst her mostly-female casts. Literature it ain't. Plot, ain't much, but things do happen. And there are NO car chases. Despite all that (and for me, these are pretty big omissions), the character development is spot-on.

The Diamond girls are the brood of a hopeless single mother. There's about four of them, all from different fathers, and mum's about to pop again, expecting a son at long last. The council has finally given them a house, far away from their flat, and our heroine Dixie's dad's friend is helping them move. Obviously, nothing goes to plan. In fact, it's complete Sod's law. The really clever thing about this book is that it simultaneously warns girls about the hellish lifestyle of a slag chav (not that slav chags actually read) while introducing, as a counterbalance, a lovely middle-class friend for little Dixie - with a secretly psycho mother. So there's your balance. Something for everyone. Your precious little darlings can be warned off a life of chavish promiscuity, and your actual literate slav chags (if that isn't an oxymoron) can at least try to read a sympathetic story about themselves which brings out the love and ability to transcend circumstances in such a family.

It's very comic-book-as prose, so literate readers should power through it in a few hours, while those with learning difficulties should be able to keep engrossed through the whole performance. And as a book for adults learning to read it probably can't be beat.

Like I said at the beginning, if you're used to more complex literature, then this will disapoint; it isn't. After all's said & done, it's a girl child's book. And it ain't pretty. But bloody well done.