I was asked to do another Wilson Book, this is the last one on my shelf. So no more for awhile. It was such a relief reading this book after Midnight. Her writing and story progression returned to the quality I expect from an author who has written over a hundred books.
My first impression was that this book was going to be set for very young readers due to the title. I was wrong, while aimed at children, it can be enjoyed by all ages. I believe the title is a reference to the protagonist’s obsession and as a metaphor for the feelings and struggles Ella and her stepfather are faced with.
Ella’s mom is in a coma not long after giving birth to the new baby, Samson and has to live with her stepfather, Jack, who she doesn’t get on with. She sees him as trying to replace her dad and like any little girl, wishes that fairy tales were real.
Unlike the characters in Midnight, Ella, Jack and the minor characters are well drawn-up and mostly believable. Ella starts to obsess about whales after learning about them in school, something I imagine any child does, especially under stress. She learns who her true friends are when her best friend runs off with another girl because she finds Ella and her issues with her mom depressing and becomes friends with a boy. Something unheard of in their school. However, the issue I have with Ella’s character is that she is illustrated with no common sense.
Ella’s playing a game during one of her swimming days and there is an incident where she does not realise she has gone too far. Any child, even at her age would be aware of it. Children are smarter than what adults give them credit for.
Jack tries his hardest, aware that Ella is not happy with him being her step-dad. The two argue a lot and the stress about Ella’s mother does not help the situation. At one point, Jack contacts Ella’s biological dad to see if he can help. As the time goes on, Jack and Ella connect, looking after the baby together and learn that family does not have to be about who you are related to.
The Writing is great, really well written, not that much different to most of her other books. There was a hilarious scene where Ella was spending time with her biological dad that made me smile because I know I’ve been in this situation myself. Ella’s favourite food is sausage so her father buys her Cumberland sausage. Ella’s never heard of, or tried Cumberland sausage before and doesn’t like the taste but doesn’t know how to explain this to her dad who came a long way to spend the day with her. Jacqueline Wilson doesn’t name the sausage but the description was enough for me to know what it was.
I hate Cumberland sausage, the first time I tried it I thought it was the way the pub served the sausage, not the sausage itself, now I know better and avoid it whenever I see it on the pub menu and I could really connect with Ella here.
The Dialogue is well thought out, believable and unique to every character and the imagery is just beautiful.