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Girls Under Pressure

Girls Under Pressure

4.2 17
by Jacqueline Wilson, Nick Sharratt (Illustrator)

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Ellie thinks she looks awful. Horrible. FAT. Her best friends are both drop-dead gorgeous and Ellie’s sick of being the ugly duckling. So she goes on a diet. And she even starts to exercise, much to her friends’ and her gym teacher’s amazement. Ellie’s hungry all the time, she works out every spare second, and she’s turned into a


Ellie thinks she looks awful. Horrible. FAT. Her best friends are both drop-dead gorgeous and Ellie’s sick of being the ugly duckling. So she goes on a diet. And she even starts to exercise, much to her friends’ and her gym teacher’s amazement. Ellie’s hungry all the time, she works out every spare second, and she’s turned into a grouchy meanie. But if her friends don’t want to deal with the new and improved Ellie, that’s their problem. It’s better to be thin than happy. Isn’t it?

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
In Girls Under Pressure, Book Two of her Girls Trilogy, Brit teen writer Jacqueline Wilson paints a thoroughly riveting and shocking picture of the devastation caused by bulemia.

When Ellie gets called fat at a local modeling contest sign-up, she starts to obsess about her weight. Her two best friends don't make it any easier, since confident Magda "doesn't really need to lose much weight" and thin Nadine eats whatever she wants and receives plenty of attention from the boys. Feeling sick and disgusted after gorging herself one night, Ellie "helps" herself by sticking her finger down her throat -- thus beginning a vicious cycle of bingeing and purging. After she sees her emaciated schoolmate Zoë in the showers, Ellie's problems escalate along with her self-delusion: She fools herself into believing her issues with food are nowhere near as serious as Zoë's.

Wilson's book about this eating disorder is absorbing and realistic. Ellie is a multi-dimensional character, whose descent into bulemia is handled with the complexity and honesty it deserves. Teachers and parents looking to open discussions about this problem will find it a helpful springboard, and teens searching for a book about social stress and the power of friendship will find Girls Under Pressure a book they'll want to pick up. A quick read that packs a punch. (Matt Warner)

Publishers Weekly
Feeling like she doesn't measure up to her "drop-dead gorgeous" friends, Ellie tries to take control of her weight, and ends up battling bulimia, in this follow-up to Girls in Love. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2002: This series, Girls Quartet, is like a British version of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series. Here the protagonist is hot-tempered Ellie, who in the first book Girls in Love is just starting ninth grade. She lives with her father, her stepmother, and her younger brother Eggs; she has two best friends, Magda and Nadine; and she dreams of becoming a graphic artist. Like Naylor, Wilson deals with the road bumps of adolescence with insight and humor. In Book 2, Girls Under Pressure, Ellie decides she is fat, and starts to starve herself. In the end, visiting a friend with anorexia, she realizes how dangerous her current course is. In Book 3, Girls Out Late, Ellie meets Russell, who is interested in art just like she is, and she narrowly escapes serious trouble when she stays out late with friends. Gossipy and realistic, addressing serious issues as well as clothes and crushes, this series, though somewhat predictable, will appeal to younger girls. The British slang shouldn't pose much of a problem for American readers. (Girls Quartet: Book 2). KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Random House, Dell, Laurel-Leaf, 214p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-This second book in the series continues the story of Ellie, Magda, and Nadine. They are acutely aware of the size and shape of their bodies, and Ellie realizes that she doesn't measure up physically to her slimmer friends. She begins a dangerous flirtation with anorexia and bulimia, and begins to exhibit the behaviors that often go along with eating disorders, such as lying to parents, hiding food, and exercising obsessively. Ellie isn't the only one with problems-Magda's chronic dating and flirting nearly lead to date rape, and Nadine is crushed when she makes the first cut in a modeling contest but then bombs miserably. Luckily, the girls have one another and understanding and supportive families. Wilson sugarcoats the serious issues with humor, but manages to get the message across without appearing didactic.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.16(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Model Girl

It's all my idea.

"Let's go Christmas shopping on Saturday," I say to my two best friends, Magda and Nadine.

"Great," says Magda, who lives to shop.

"Sure," says Nadine, but she looks surprised. "I thought you always made your own Christmas presents, Ellie."

"Yes, well, I think I've grown out of that stage now," I say hurriedly.

We've always had this silly tradition in my family. I'd think of a theme and then make everyone a present based on it. There was the year of the stripy hand-knitted scarves, the wobbly vases the year I joined the pottery class, the cross-stitched canvas purses . . . I made them for everyone, friends as well as family, and because people were polite I thought they really liked my loopy homemade junk.

I've known Nadine since we were both five so she's endured years of fraying dresses for her Barbie dolls and lumpy little felt mice. When we started secondary school I made Nadine a black-and-silver friendship bracelet. I made one for Magda in pink and purple. They seemed to like them. They both wore them for a while, anyway.

Last Christmas I made special boxes for all the family, studded with beads and shells. I used liquorice allsorts for Eggs's box—but he tried to lick them through the glaze and hurt his tongue. Typical. Dad and Anna act like he's an infant prodigy but I think he's got the brains of a flea. I pondered long and hard over boxes for Magda and Nadine. In the end I made Nadine a silver box with a painted silver shell design. I did an identical one in gold for Magda. She opened hers as if she was expecting somethinginside—and then she asked if I'd be making her a gold necklace to go in it next year. She was joking—I think. I suddenly felt about Eggs's age.

"We'll go round the Flowerfields Shopping Centre," I say firmly. "We'll buy all the presents for our families, and then we'll split up for a bit and buy each other stuff."

"And then we'll go to the Soda Fountain and have a milk shake," says Magda, getting more enthusiastic by the minute.

The Soda Fountain recently opened up on the Flowerfields basement floor. It's like those shiny ice cream parlor places you see in old American movies. It's become the in place to hang out now—rumored to be great for meeting boys. If there's one thing Magda likes better than shopping, it's boys. Lots of them.

Nadine sighs and raises her eyebrows at me. She's seriously off the opposite sex at the moment, ever since she got heavily involved with this creep Liam who was just using her. She doesn't want to go out with anyone else now. Magda wants to go out with a different boy every night. I'm not sure what I want. And it's not like I get that many offers, anyway.

Well. There's this boy Dan I met on holiday. He's my sort-of boyfriend. I don't see him much because he lives in Manchester. And he's younger than me. And looks a bit weird. He is definitely not a dreamboat.

I shall have to get him a Christmas present, though. Goodness knows what. I've had this sudden brilliant idea of buying Magda and Nadine underwear from Knickerbox. Red satin flowery knickers for Magda. Black lace for Nadine. And then I could get Dad a big pair of Marks & Spencer boxer shorts and Anna some pretty prim white panties. Eggs could have Mickey Mouse knickers. I've been warming to the universal knicker present. But I can't give Dan underpants! Though I know exactly what sort, a wacky pair with a silly message. . . .

I decide I'll have a good look round on Saturday and see if I get any further inspiration. I go over to Nadine's house around ten. Her dad's outside, washing his car. He's the sort of guy who worships his car, spending hours and hours anointing it every weekend.

"Hello, Curlynob," he calls.

I force a cheery grin and knock at the door. Nadine's mum answers, in an old jumper and leggings, with a dustcloth in her hand. She is obviously dressed for serious house-cleaning.

"Hello, dear. Nadine's in her bedroom," she says, sniffing disapprovingly.

"Hello, Ellie. I'm helping Mummy," says Natasha, waving a feather duster from the living room.

Natasha is still in her cutesie-pie pajamas and fluffy slippers. She's dancing round to some silly cartoon music on the telly, flicking her feather duster as she goes.

"Isn't she a good girl?" says Nadine's mum proudly.

I try to manufacture another smile.

Natasha rushes at me.

"You look dirty, Ellie," she says. She prances round me, poking her feathers right in my face. "There! I'm wiping all the dust off."

"Oh, sweet!" says her mum.

"Ouch! Natasha, that hurts," I say, my smile now very sickly indeed.

Natasha is the only six-year-old in the world worse than my little brother, Eggs. I sidle past and run up the stairs to Nadine's room. It is wonderfully black and bleak after the glaring patterns in the hall. Nadine is looking glamorously black and bleak herself, her long black hair hanging loose, her eyes heavily outlined with black kohl, her face powdered white as chalk. She's wearing a black skimpy sweater, black jeans, black boots—and as I come into her room she pulls on her black velvet jacket.

"Hi. What are those weird red marks on your face, Ellie?"

"Your delightful sister has just been seriously assaulting me with her feather duster."

"Oh, God. Sorry. Don't worry. She wants a new Barbie doll for Christmas. I'll customize one. How about Killer Barbie, with a special sharp little dagger that whips out of her dinky stiletto?"

"Remember all our Barbie doll games, Naddie? I liked it best when we turned them all into witches."

"Oh, yeah, you made them all those little black frocks and special hooked noses out of plasticine. Wicked."

We both sigh nostalgically.

"I used to love playing with plasticine," I say. "I still like mucking around with Eggs's little set, though he's got all the colors mixed up."

"OK, then. That's your Christmas present solved. Your very own pack of plasticine," says Nadine. "I don't know what I'm going to get Magda, though. She was hinting like mad about this new Chanel nail varnish but I bet it costs a fortune."

"I know. I'm a bit strapped for cash too, actually."

"It's all right for Magda. Her mum and dad give her that socking great allowance. My dad gives me exactly the same as Natasha, for God's sake. In fact Natasha ends up with heaps more because they're forever buying her extra stuff. It's so lousy having a sucky little sister."

"Just as bad with a boring little brother. That's why Magda's so lucky, because she's the spoilt baby of the family."

Magda certainly shows stylish evidence of spoiling when we meet up with her at the Flowerfields Shopping Centre entrance. She's wearing a brand-new bright red furry jacket that looks wonderful.

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Wilson, a bestselling author in Britain, has written several award-winning books for young people, including The Suitcase Kid, Double Act, and The Lottie Project.

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Girls Under Pressure 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book its the type of book you can read and re-read a million times absolutley great!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am getting a sample, but i luv this author, so i know i will b impressed. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Martha Van Auken More than 1 year ago
as a preteen i loved this series!!! hughly recomenec
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book. it's the only one i've read in the series, but it wasn't hard to get into it at all. and it was also very believable and un-farfetched, which most books like this can be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wilson has done it again! This is a story about a girl named Ellie, who's having weight issues. This was a quick,easy, and fun read that all Jacqueline Wilson lovers will die for. I hope I get the chance to read another in this series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The second in the 'Girls' series, this book starts dismally and too suddenly: Ellie's transition into eating disorders seems to start in a mere flash. The middle is good enough, although fairly typical. Where is the slyness? Ellie's tactics are rather mundane and text-book. Ellie's sudden realisation towards the end is unrealistic and a little cheesey. Whilst Wilson writes in an entertaining manner, one cannot help but feel the issue throughout the book is just swept under the carpet towards the end. I was more interested in Zoe, a minor character, than in Ellie. A light story about eating disorders, although not a page turner. (Reviewed by an anorexic/bulimic)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, first of all, I love British books. Second of all, this one is relatable. I myself have often been worried about my weight, how I look in clothes, that I'm too fat, etc. Body image is one of the biggest issues for teenage girls these days and this book makes that clear. Good thing after her struggles, which are seriously unhealthy ones, Ellie begins to feel just a bit better about herself. Friendship is also stressed here. Ellie has great friends who help her through her problems. Great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
"I think this is a fabulous book. Ellie, the main character, realizes or just thinks she's fat.Someone at a model search says of course she wasn't there for the model search because she's fat. That starts Ellie on this crazy diet that starts her to become bilemic. Read this book to follow Ellie on her difficult journey to lose weight any way she can."
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ellie tries to starve herself, but when her friends and family gets worried she tries to tell them she is fine. Ellie is not ok. She is not even that fat. Ellie finally relizes she maybe a little chubby, but she is not fat. Find out the reason why Ellie stops this crazy diet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Girls under pressure is about three girls Magda, nadine and Ellie. Ellie is the main character and is over weight, she gets depressed alot because Magda and Nadine are preety, popular, succesfull with boys and slim. Ellie gets upset and decides to make herself sick and she gets addicted to it. This is a must read book about a girl trying to fight her eating habites.