Jade LB, seen in silhouette, against a bright yellow background.

Image: Stuart Simpson/Penguin

Fifteen years after it was written, Noughties phenomenon Keisha The Sket has finally achieved the recognition it deserves: being published as a book.

Author Jade LB was just 13 when wrote the compelling narrative of a Black teenager’s coming-of-age in the estates of Hackney. After it ricocheted through the email accounts, text messages and print-outs of teenagers just like Keisha, the still-adolescent LB retreated from the attention her authorship was getting. In 2021, and still anonymous, LB has published Keisha The Sket, granting the book its rightful place in the literary canon.

To do so, though, LB had to revisit her teenage self: the girl who broke the internet despite barely having dial-up access herself.

Speaking to Nihal Arthanayake on the Penguin Podcast, where writers discuss objects the have inspired their writing, LB explained why she had brought in her teenage diary. LB found the diary during a clear-out at the end of 2020 and “miles away from writing the re-write” of her original story. “It was interesting to come across it and to look at my old self, and to feel connected to her,” says LB.

But the diary also had value in writing the contemporary version of LB’s original story. One of the main comments from readers encountering Keisha The Sket now it is published, as well as those revisiting the story in book form, is the tidal wave of nostalgia it has generated for a certain time in pop culture.

That, she says, was massively aided by discovering her diary, “When it came to writing the rewrite, the diary became really, really important and really helpful for being able to invoke some real nostalgia in that section of the book,” LB told Arthanayake.

Listen to Jade LB on the Penguin Podcast

Asked what it was like to connect with her younger self, LB explained that it had been a process. “I have had to really, really love teenage Jade,” she said. “Really accept her, really like her, really respect her offering to the world.

“I think the average person gets to just forget about their teenage self, just lock their teenage self in a box. But I've had to fully embrace her with this Keisha The Sket journey. And in that, I have definitely learned to be grateful to her and to have a new hope in her actually, that she wasn't just fragile and lost and disconnected. That actually she was doing something.”

You can listen to the whole conversation, in which LB discusses Keisha The Sket, her journey and the realities of dating as a Black, working-class woman, above – and don't forget to subscribe to the Penguin Podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, to be notified of future episodes.

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