Bad Girls (Wilson novel)
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First edition cover
|2 May 1996|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
Bad Girls is a children's novel published in 1996, written by English author Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Nick Sharratt. The book revolves around a ten-year-old girl called Mandy being bullied by a girl called Kim. She later befriends a wayward teenage girl called Tanya who is in foster care and battling her own personal demons.
10-year-old Mandy White is mercilessly tormented at school by three classmates: Kim, Melanie and Sarah. After an incident where she is nearly hit by a bus while crossing a road to avoid the bullies, she is kept at home from school and meets Tanya, a lively older girl being fostered by Mandy's next door neighbour. Despite disapproval from Mandy's elderly mother, who is very overprotective of her and treats her as if she were much younger, the girls quickly become friends. They dream of a future where they will be older and independent, free from families and foster homes, and can live together and have fantastic adventures. Mandy becomes afraid when she discovers that Tanya is a frequent shoplifter, but decides not to say anything in case they are forbidden from visiting each other. At the end of the book, Tanya and Mandy are caught by police when Tanya steals from an upmarket clothing shop in town. Mandy's mother is initially angry, but realises she has been too strict with her and allows her to get new glasses and restyle her hair so she won't look quite as childish. Mandy also gains a new friend in Arthur, a shy boy in her class who is obsessed with fantasy stories. She greatly misses Tanya, who was taken to a new foster home when her previous criminal convictions were discovered, but the novel ends on a happy note as Tanya (who has dyslexia and hates writing) has with great difficulty written a letter to Mandy, assuring her that they are best friends forever and will one day be free to see each other again as they had dreamed about. Melanie, who in the past was Mandy's friend but had become friends with Kim and Sarah, becomes friends with her again.
Tanya makes a brief appearance in another of Jacqueline Wilson's novels, Dustbin Baby.
- Mandy White: Mandy is ten years old. She is extremely shy and timid to the point that she doesn't even like telling her mother about her problems, and has very low self-esteem. She lives with her mother and father, both of who are a lot older than the parents of Mandy's classmates. They often cuddle her, and treat her as if she were six rather than ten. Mandy is often teased for this, as she must wear babyish dresses and thick glasses, and has to style her hair in two plaits. Mandy is bullied by Kim, a pretty, popular classmate, and Kim's two friends Sarah and Melanie.
- Tanya: Tanya is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives across the street from Mandy. She is living with a foster mother, Mrs. Williams, temporarily. Despite the large age gap, she takes a shine to Mandy, who is impressed by her bright orange, cropped hair and stilettos. She is tough and streetwise (once standing up against Kim for Mandy), but kind too. She can be moody, as Mandy finds out, and hates schoolwork as she is dyslexic. Mandy is shocked to discover, one day at the local shopping centre, that Tanya is a frequent shoplifter. However, she gets caught and is sent away from Mrs. William's house.
- Mandy's Mother: Mandy's mother is fifty-five. She constantly babies Mandy and insists she wear her hair in two plaits, and dresses. She is a sensitive but firm woman. She is a large woman who squeezes herself into dresses that are too small for her.
- Mandy's Father: A 62-year-old businessman, with a beard. Mandy's father is gentler than his wife and often keeps a level head in an escalated situation. He wears sharp suits for work, but loose smocks at home. He has been known to stick up for Tanya against his wife.
- Kim Matthews: Kim is a girl in Mandy's class. She is popular and confident; Mandy mentions that she would definitely make it as a model, with her shiny, black hair and her pearly white teeth. Kim mercilessly bullies Mandy about her parents, her looks and her clothes. She is the leader in the bullying trio.
- Sarah Newman: Sarah is the second bully in the group. A show-off with thick blonde curls, she looks up to Kim and mostly picks on Mandy just to impress her. Sarah and Melanie often struggle to outdo each other when it comes to pleasing Kim.
- Melanie Holder: Melanie is just like Sarah, a minion of Kim's. However, Melanie used to be Mandy's best friend before Kim befriended her. She uses a lot of Mandy's secrets and private imaginary games against Mandy to humiliate her, and to entertain the others. She and Sarah are constantly battling each other to satisfy Kim.
- Arthur King: A boy in Mandy's class, just as shy and timid as she is. The pair become good friends toward the end of the novel. He enjoys chess and reading about King Arthur and his knights. He often feels guilt for not standing up for Mandy against the bullies.
- Sean, Matty and Carmel: Tanya's three younger siblings, who have been adopted.
- Pat Williams: The foster mother that Tanya lives with. She mostly fosters babies and toddlers, but Tanya was an emergency case.
- Mrs. Edwards: Mrs. Edwards is the headmistress of the school.
- Mrs. Stanley: Mrs. Stanley is Mandy, Kim, Melanie, Sarah and Arthur's Year 5 class teacher.
- Miss Moseley: Miss Moseley is the characters' Year 6 class teacher.
- Mr. and Mrs. Patel: The Indian owners of a corner shop that Tanya and Mandy visit en route back from the park the day Mandy returns to school. Here, Tanya buys a newspaper and steals Mrs. Patel's bottle-green velvet scrunchie.