Whew....where to start. I dunno. We like reading Jacqueline Wilsons specifically because they tend to speak to us about our own issues with troubled and neglected childhoods, and this definitely fits the bill for that. The kids loved it. But we all got a little...I dunno, weirded out? by the time it reached the end of it.
Y'see, most of the time in these books we relate because we know those struggles, but it always seems to work out for them where it didn't for us, and that makes us feel all weirdly resentful and jealous at the same time as being happy for the kids in the story.
The same thing happened here as well, and this one got to us a lot more because...well, because our mother left us alone for up to a couple weeks at a time on a regular basis. This book makes a huge deal out of what was seen as a totally normal thing for us that had been happening on and off for as long as we could remember. And not one adult around us thought it was odd. Not one adult questioned us about it. Not one adult acted like this wasn't normal. And every. single. adult. in this book picked up on it - questioned them - tried to help. It just seemed so...odd. So out of place. So unrealistic. For us, anyway.
We even tried to tell people about it - we called our nan every time we ran out of food, and complained about how long our mother had been gone. She would bring us more food, so we never had to resort to stealing the way the kids in this book did, but she didn't seem concerned at all about our being on our own. We tried to tell kids at school about it when it happened during term-time - they scoffed at us, disbelieving, saying we were making it up to get attention because if we'd really been left on our own we'd have starved to death by now. The teachers were in the same room, must have overheard us once or twice, never so much as blinked. :/
So yeah, the resentfulness and the jealousy is strong when reading this book, and I am really angry about how unrealistic it is to actually get everything sorted out and social services involved and everyone being nice to the kids and trying to help them. Not angry at the author, necessarily, more angry about the fact that this should be realistic; angry about my personal experiences. But it comes out as anger at this book and I am sorry about that but very grumpy indeed now.
Just...I would kind of like to trigger warn this book for anyone who experienced not only a shitton of neglect but also the usual disbelief that goes along with that. The lack of disbelief of neglect in this book just might drive you crazy.
*ie: I am not attacking this book in any way, please don't get all offended/defensive about it and come crying at me. This is not up for debate, I am just spewing my personal feelings about this that it stirred up in me. My emotions and experiences are valid and my own to discuss.