Tracy Beaker was Wilson’s iconic first heroine making her debut in 1991. In the current Wilson offering Tracy is now a grown up woman and a mother. The new novel is narrated by her daughter Jess, aged ten. Tracy and Jess live happily in a rather run down council flat. Apart from an occasional card, Jess’s father plays little part in her life – or that of Tracy.
Tracy has had a varied work life. She has worked as a carer in the children’s home where she herself grew up and as a dog walker. Tracy’s foster mother Cam remains very much a presence in the lives of Tracy and Jess, now being known as Granny Cam. There is one thing Jess would love to own but which is beyond her reach, namely a dog. Council rules forbid her having a resident pet.
Life takes a distinctly different turn when Tracy meets a famous footballer named Sean Godfrey and falls in love with him. Tracy and Sean have a history. They knew each other as children, when his nickname was simply ‘Football’. They met again when Tracy attended Sean’s gymnasium in an effort to deal with her anger issues.
Jess takes against Sean. She is far from ready to share her mother’s affection. The question is whether Tracy is in line to achieve lasting happiness with Sean? And if so, how will Jess respond?
Those readers who back in the nineties wondered how Tracy Beaker would work out in the adult world now have a chance to understand how matters developed. There is a subtle force at work here. When Tracy was a child she became expert at concealing her emotions from the world and from us as readers. Now, under the perceptive eye of her daughter, Tracy’s emotions are laid bare to a far greater extent. Has Tracy learned to master her anger issues? Has she learned to avoid occasional volcanic outbursts? As will be expected by all those who grew to know Tracy well in her previous incarnation, the answer is a resounding no. She can still lose control. With the deft narrative touch we have come to expect, Wilson achieves success at two levels. Those of us who knew Tracy as a child and have grown up with her will be delighted to meet her as an adult. And children coming to this story for the first time will rejoice in seeing the world through Jess’s eyes.