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Literature / Love Lessons

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Love Lessons is a Jacqueline Wilson novel aimed at teenagers. Fourteen-year-old Prue and her sister Grace have been educated at home by their controlling, super-strict father all their lives. Forced to wear Mum's odd hand-made garments and forbidden from reading teenage magazines, they know they're very different to 'normal' girls – but when Dad has a stroke and ends up in hospital, unable to move or speak, Prue suddenly discovers what it's like to have a little freedom.


Sent to a real school for the first time, Prue struggles to fit in. The only person she can talk to is her kindly, young – and handsome – art teacher, Rax. They quickly bond, and Prue feels more and more drawn to him. As her feelings grow stronger, she begins to realise that he might feel the same way about her. But nothing could ever happen between them - could it?

Contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Prue's father is extremely controlling, demanding and emotionally abusive towards his children. Part of the reason Prue latches onto Mr. Raxberry is that he's the first adult she's ever met who treats her with kindness and respect. He's not much better towards his wife either, frequently berating her for being stupid in front of his daughters.
  • Anti-Hero: Prue could be considered this, as she's shown from the very start to have a rebellious, selfish streak, such as spending her father's money on things for herself and lying about attending her maths lessons, to treating her sister Grace very poorly and trying to seduce Mr. Raxberry in spite of knowing about his marriage and kids. Miss Wilmott calls Prue out towards the end for her arrogant personality.
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  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Prudence starts interrogating Mr. Raxberry about his wife, she asks him if, had she been the same age as him and Marianne when they first met, would he have been more attracted to her or to Prudence? Mr. Raxberry is unable to answer and changes the subject.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Rita responds to Toby talking to Prue by flying into a jealous rage and slapping Prue in the face.
  • Callingthe Old Man Out: Prudence calls out her Dad at the beginning of the book after he slaps her in the face for spending her tuition money on herself (which is understandable since she's never had the money to do so before), though he has a stroke minutes later and she feels terribly about if even though she was right.
  • Grew a Spine: Prue and Grace's mother gradually stops taking her domineering husband's crap, especially as he is incapable of bullying them the way he did before the stroke and she realises he's made an utter mess of the family's finances.
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  • Hopeless with Tech: Prudence is so bad at I.T that she can't even switch the computer on. Her teacher thinks she's taking the piss until she gloomily explains to him that they don't even have a T.V at their house.
  • Ironic Name: Prudence, who is pretty much anything but a prude. Her teacher lampshades this. Similarly, her sister Grace is not particularly graceful. Prudence explains her father liked old-fashioned names and their middle-names are just as bad - Prudence Charity and Grace Patience.
  • Karma Houdini: Arguably, Toby. He causes a lot of Prue's problems at school, as any special interest he shows her gets the ire of Rita, who lashes out at Prue and further increases Prue's feelings of isolation, but he never gets punished or called out on how him repeatedly ignoring Prue's requests for him to leave her alone get her into a lot of trouble.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Toby is dyslexic and manages to persuade Prue to help him with his reading if he takes her out to eat. Prudence reluctantly agrees, but unfortunately one of Rita's friends sees them at McDonalds and Rita gets into a fight with Prudence over it the next day.
  • No Social Skills: A huge part of Prudence's problems, when she is incapable of fitting in with others thanks to years of homeschooling and her own rather headstrong attitude. Ironically, her younger sister ends up happy and makes friends easily even though she is frequently considered 'slow' by her family.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Miss Wilmott gives Prue one when the nature of her relationship with Mr. Raxberry is uncovered, calling out her obnoxious and arrogant personality.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mrs Godfrey treats Prue rudely for no reason when she asks for an English exercise book on her first day. Then she mocks Prue in front of the whole class for working hard on an essay about a poem. This is especially upsetting, as Prue is actually good at English and struggled in most other subjects with the exception of Art, but Mrs. Godfrey's treatment of her inspires Prue to stop bothering to put in any effort, since she gets ridiculed if she tries anyway.
  • Shipper on Deck: Grace ships Prue with Toby because he's the most popular boy in school and it would give her a massive social boost if her older sister was dating him, and their mother does too eventually, much to Prue's annoyance as she can't stand Toby, thinks he's stupid and all his attention does is attract more bullying from Rita.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Grace, surprisingly, gives one to Prudence when she mocks Grace's new friends and comments that Grace should be "a bit more selective", only for Grace to point out that at least she's made new friends.
    Grace: Looks like you've been a bit too selective.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The plot of the book, though Mr. Raxberry eventually decides he can't continue the relationship, he does kiss the underaged Prudence a few times and even tells her he loves her.
  • Taking the Heat: When Prue and Raxberry's are exposed, Prue tells the Headmistress that it was all her idea and Mr. Raxberry had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately it seems like Mr. Raxberry isn't sacked, but Prue is expelled from school.
  • Theme Naming: Grace befriends two girls who go by Iggy and Figgy, and they promptly name her Piggy. Prue is horrified but Grace is ecstatic to be part of a group and their friendship does come off as quite genuine.


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