Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson

Lola Rose is definitely one for her older readers, however. Jayni, her mum and little brother Kenny are forced to flee their family home when Jayni's dad starts hitting her too--as if it wasn't enough that he battered his wife about already. A desperate flight to London is made bearable when Jayni's mum wins £10,000 on a lottery scratch card and treats everybody to whatever they want. It's a chance to start again and have an adventure--and to forget. They even get to pick new names so that they can hide better. Jayni picks out "Lola Rose"--an exotic-sounding name she finds in one of the magazines she is so fond of cutting up and pasting into her scrapbooks.
But the lottery money doesn't last forever and Lola's mum finds it harder than she thought being away from her husband. However, it's definitely the start of something better for everyone despite a few hiccups along the way. 

It has literally been years since I read this novel! I was up in the attic the other day, and I found it in a bag along with a few other Jacqueline Wilson books. Up until the publishing of either 'Cookie' or 'My Sister Jodie', I'd read every Wilson book there was, and most multiple times. But since I was eleven, I'd stopped reading them, and a few months ago I gave the majority of them away, leaving just a few left; including this one. I got this copy at a theatre performance of Wilson's 'Midnight'. No one had chosen it because it was already a bit dog-eared and ripped from being carted around, but being my unwanted-book-rescuing self, I bought it. And I've never had the heart to give it away.

Anyway, up until yesterday, I hadn't realized how utterly depressing it really is. I always knew Wilson dealt with serious topics in children's books, and although at the time I thought I completely understood everything, I can see now that most of it went over my head. When I finished it, my mum took one look at me and said "You feel really depressed now, don't you?". Books can affect my mood anyway, but pretty powerful ones can knock me a bit. And this is no exception. Basically, Jayni's father is a domestic abuser, and so her, her mum and her little brother, Kenny, run away to start of somewhere fresh with £10,000 lottery money. You'd think they'd be pretty safe, to a certain extent like that - but their mother is a pretty terrible mother; she drinks, she smokes, she cheats, she leaves the children (roughly ages 11 and 5) home alone for days, and spends money on ridiculous things - so of course, they get into a bit of trouble along the way. And if you didn't think that was a bit much for a child to handle, Wilson also talks about obesity and breast cancer.

I do like the characters in this novel - but not love. Looking at the bad side of them, the mum is a terrible mother, Jayni is really harsh to her younger brother, and Kenny whines about everything. But I guess some families can be like that at times, and if I picked at the best parts of them, I have grown attached. Jayni is a really strong character, and I have to say I can relate to her at that age more than I'd perhaps like to.And the mum, although she had her faults, did get her act together when it was absolutely necessary.

I have to say, I really respect Wilson as an author, because I don't know anyone else who takes serious topics and turns them into novels that are easy and engaging for children/young teens to understand. And not just young teenagers - I'm fifteen, yet I'm still reading it! She's a brilliant writer, and she manages to create these amazing and very different characters - no two are alike. So I think that even though children may not completely understand these issues, the characters and storyline are enought to attract them.

Admittedly, I do think that possibly talking about some of these topics is a bit hard-hitting, especially since most books are aimed at children from eight to twelve. I reckon this book would have been better if it was aimed at an even older audience - maybe thirteen, fourteen year olds - because I think their perception of it would be higher than that of a younger child's. If you're around my age and haven't read this book, I think you should, just for fun! Even if their target audience is a few years younger than my age, they are still addictive.

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