Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Published by: Random House
Publication date: 4th June 2015
Genres: Middle grade/Historical/Family/War
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
I used to love Jacqueline Wilson's books when I was younger, but I haven't read one for many years. I thought I was too old, that they wouldn't interest me in the slightest anymore, but I was wrong. Opal Plumstead, at least, can be read and enjoyed by anyone of any age, and I was surprised to see that this book dealt with some really, really dark themes. Now I'm wondering if Wilson's other books do, too. Maybe this stuff used to fly right over my head because I was so young. It's strange, going back to a favourite childhood author.
Opal Plumstead doesn't fit in. Her teachers hate her, the girls at school ignore her, and she only has one friend. To make matters worse, Opal's sister is the favourite daughter. But life is okay. There's food on the table, books on the shelves, and Opal has big plans to go to Oxford. Then her father is arrested, Britain goes to war and Opal is taken out of school and shoved into a factory. Nothing is the same again.
To be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. There were parts that really dragged and I felt that this book was unnecessarily long, but there were many aspects that I loved, Opal's intelligence being one of them. There were times when she used words that even I don't completely understand. This was great to see because, a lot of the time, children's books are incredibly simple with boring sentence structures and words that would better suit a three-year-old. It was refreshing and, this probably sounds patronising, but I'm all for books that inject challenging vocabulary into childrens' lives.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see feminist themes taking up a large portion of this book. Yes, I see it's on the cover now - I'm not the most observant person at times! I think it's wonderful that such a thing is being promoted in a children's book by one of the world's most popular authors.
Less serious, but it has to be said: Opal ended up working in a sweet factory and, no matter how old you are, that's always going to be fun and fascinating to read about. I want to go inside one. *adds to bucket list*
I've also been given an Opal Plumstead goodie bag to give away to one lucky winner! Click the arrows on the widget below to see what's inside. This is open to residents of the UK and ROI only. Good luck!
And if you're bored and want a video to watch, I've also uploaded a video review of this book. If that's more your kind of thing, why not have a look? Enjoy!