Gr 5-8-A searing portrait of a woman's mental illness and its effects on her children is told by her youngest daughter, 10-year-old Dolphin. High school student Star is a practical, angry teen. Their mother, Marigold, is covered in tattoos and compulsively gets new ones whenever she gets upset, which happens more and more frequently. The family is constantly on the brink of being homeless and the girls essentially have to take care of themselves and their mother. Marigold is obsessed with Star's father, whom she hasn't seen in years and who doesn't even know that he has a daughter. She finds Micky at a concert and is convinced that they will now reunite. Star goes to stay with him because she can't handle Marigold any longer, leaving Dolphin with a mother who is less and less stable. After a complete breakdown, she is put in a psychiatric ward and Dol is put in foster care, at least temporarily. Star comes back and stays there as well. Dolphin is a sympathetic character and the relationship between the sisters is realistically portrayed, as is Marigold's mental illness. This isn't a fun read and the girls' future is only moderately hopeful, but it is an involving one on a subject not often portrayed in children's literature.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Wilson admirably keeps things upbeat as she explores two sisters' coping with a mother who is careening further into mental illness and alcoholism. Beautiful, odd, and very tattooed Marigold loves her two daughters, ten-year-old Dolphin and 12-year-old Star-progeny of two different brief relationships-but can barely take care of them responsibly. More often than not, they've had to care for her, and they strive mightily to make allowances and appear normal. When Star's father invites the girls to live with him, only his own daughter accepts, and Dolphin must make things work at home. A particularly bizarre behavior by Mum forces Dolphin, buoyed by a newfound, supportive friendship with a classmate who's also an outsider, to take drastic action. The very satisfying ending-Dolphin connects with the father she's never seen and maybe, after hospitalization, Mum will get better-is pat, but readers won't care. They'll feel for these two very realistically drawn girls and hope for the best along with them. The author doesn't shy away from the difficulties, but there's humor here, too. (Fiction. 11-14)
“A marvelous, poignant tale. . . . Jacqueline’s best yet.”—Daily Telegraph (UK)
“Disturbingly perceptive and provocative.”—The Guardian (UK)
“A powerfully portrayed, sometimes shocking but ultimately uplifting story, this is a book not to be missed.”—The Bookseller (UK)
Winner of the Children’s Book of the Year Award in England