Book Author: Jaqueline Wilson
Genre: Children, Realism
First Published: 6th March 2003
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
upon the violence and unexpected situations that some young children have to deal with on a daily basis and the fear, behaviour issues and confusion that this can cause children. Jayni and Kenny are no different, confused and hurt by her dad and lost by her mother’s ill fortune, Jayni and Kenny don’t know what to do.
I decided to read this book as it is a light read and I was short on time to dig into a more deeper book but I still found it interesting and well written. For a change, it doesn’t fit in with any of my remaining reading prompts.
Jayni and Kenny lived with their mom and dad until their mom, Nicky, wins the lottery, or at least £10,000 on a scratch card. But there’s a problem, Jay, their father. When he finds out, he lashes out, hitting Nicky and Jayni.
Nicky packs bags while Jay is at the pub and runs away with the kids and they take on new identities. Nicky becomes Victoria Luck, Jayni is Lola Rose and Kenny is Kendal. When they feel everything is safe, Nicky discovers a lump on her breast that could be fatal, turning Lola Rose’s new, safe life upside down.
Plot and Narration
I wouldn’t really say the book has a complex plot. In fact, it’s more like it has several plots that are both simple and may intertwine on occasion. Originally a story about a girl escaping from her violent dad with her baby brother and mom, it becomes a story about a girl afraid her mom is going to die.
This may sound morbid, but Wilson deals with the story well. As always, it is told from the perspective of the protagonist, which is Jayni / Lola Rose, which distances the story a little bit from the more gruesome details. Lola Rose is aware of the bruises caused by her dad but doesn’t go into too much detail of what happened. It also shows the confusion that the children feel when in situations like these and how they imitate behaviour.
An example of this is seen in Kenny. When living with their dad, Kenny believed that hitting girls was alright. He lashes out. Attacks his sister, hits his mom and sticks up for his dad. But when they run away and their mom gets a new boyfriend who is kinder and more of a father figure, Kenny becomes more mellow, he isn’t violent. I think it also installs an important message to the children reading the book as it states that no one deserves to be hit.
For awhile, Kenny and Lola Rose settle down to what seems like it is going to be a good life with their mom and her new boyfriend, Jake. But then their mom has a lump on her breast and has to go to hospital and Jake leaves. Lola Rose is at a lost what to do. Afraid she’ll end up in care, she rings the aunt her mom told her about.
I like how the story lets you know that just because one problem has gone away doesn’t mean there will not be more that follows. Running away from her dad didn’t mean that everything would be fine.
While the ending is happy and the children are cared for, it doesn’t let you know what happens to the mom and whether she is going to get better. I think this is a good thing as there will be children who does have a family member with cancer who would be wondering if that person gets better. Not knowing this at the end of the book but knowing that the kids are safe would encourage a child to believe they may be safe too.
The characters were well drawn out, particularly the children. I liked how the children’s goal and motivation changed on a daily basis depending on how they were feeling, which I think is common with children.
Kenny only wanted to go back to his dad until he met his mom’s new boyfriend Jake. He has an obsession with sharks and carries his toy shark around with him everywhere until it gets banned from his school—as he was invading people’s personal space with it and ended up getting attacked. He doesn’t understand why he was dragged away from his dad until they meet again and he realises how bad his dad actually was.
Jayni/ Lola Rose only wanted to get away from her dad. She was terrified of him, believed he would hurt her and that he would hurt her mom but while on the run, she was always afraid he would find them. That is, until her aunt Barbara comes along and shows her that she does not have to be afraid. She’s superstitious I think, believing that if she goes to the aquarium for an hour to confront the scary shark, George, that her mom will be cured and the stark tooth she acquired would also help.
Jake is a university student in his 20s that dates Lola Rose’s mom until her lottery runs out. It is never clear if he was after the money or the cancer was what broke them apart but he does say that he was not looking for a long term relationship which could also suggest commitment issues. He was a good role module to the children.
Nicky/Victoria is the mother of Lola Rose and Kenny. She chooses the surname, Luck, because she won the lottery and believed she was lucky, that is until she was diagnosed with cancer.
Barbara is the aunt of the children and comes in as a protector. She helps the children feel secure and helps their mom with the hospital appointments and treatment that she has to go through. She is a big-boned woman who is usually ridiculed for her size but can take care of herself and proves everyone wrong.
I feel this book contains two difficult topics, domestic violence and terminal illness, but it copes with them well and contains good messages. Nicky doesn’t take Jay back, showing that a person should not treat their partner with violence. Lola Rose learns the dangers of lurking outside late by herself and Kenny learns that violence is not the answer.
It also shows that there is always hope. While we don’t know if Nicky gets better, we know that Lola Rose and Kenny are with their aunt and are safe. They may have hard times ahead, but they will get through it