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Lily Alone ISBN: 9780385618649
Sharratt, Nick and Wilson, Jacqueline
Published by Doubleday Childrens, 2011
This is an amazing novel - realistic, gritty, and not happy, it is nevertheless told with a lightness of touch completely characteristic of Wilson. Her children are so real one could touch them, and one wants to throttle their thoughtless and dysfunctional mum. Lily is eleven. She and six year old twins, Bliss and Baxter, and three year old Pixie, share the same mother but have three different fathers, and as their mum was only fifteen when Lily was born, she still likes a good time, and most of all enjoys falling for unsuitable men. Lily is aware of all this, but loves her mum and is the more grown-up of the two. When mum decides to take a holiday to Spain with her latest boyfriend, she leaves the children with Lily, believing she has contacted one of her ex-partners to come and look after the children. The fact that she has only left a phone message means that he never comes, and Lily is left on her own, knowing that if anyone finds out there is no adult with the family, they will be taken into care. Much of the rest of this long novel is taken up with the children's adventures. Child-like herself, Lily is a responsible child and takes her responsibilities seriously. She is also very good with the three younger ones, and in spite of the fact that Baxter is difficult and possibly hyper-active, that Bliss is timid and afraid of everything, and that Pixie is a typical three year old, she manages well, although the food situation gets grim, and the dirt is described all too believably. Lily is desperate to be alone, even though she loves the children, and she dreams herself into a spotless flat where everything is perfect. In desperation she takes the children to a nearby park to camp out because she is afraid they have been reported, and this escapade ends in near tragedy when Bliss falls from a tree and breaks her leg. Of course, all must then be revealed, and the children are put into care separately. Mum has returned, but has been accused not only of child neglect, but of fraud because of misuse of a credit card. It would be hard to imagine a more feckless mum, and even though she loves her kids, she has no idea of their needs and is a child herself - a selfish one at that. Lily is desperate to keep the family together, but by the end of the book, it looks increasingly unlikely, and Lily is alone indeed. A strong and believable novel, but not a happy ending.
Age: 10+