Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: Hetty Feather

Title: Hetty Feather
Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Release Date: 2010
Genre: historical fiction, family, friendship, orphans, British literature, children's fiction
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: Children's fiction (middle grade)
Age Group: 10+

Hetty Feather's name isn't actually Hetty. That's just the name the Foundling Hospital gave her when she was abandoned there by her mother. She's pretty sure she actually has a really beautiful name, even though she's not quite sure that would match her appearance.
Lucky Hetty ends up with a loving foster family. Then, she's sent back to the Foundling Hospital at the age of six, as is required of all foundlings who were fostered. There, she learns her school lessons and sews. She's fed and has a home.
Hetty knows there is so much more in the world, and quite honestly, the Foundling Hospital isn't what it's all cracked up to be, and Hetty and her authorities don't get along very well.
Which is fine, because Hetty is dead set on finding out who her mother is and finding a real home at last.
What will happen to Hetty?

Word of Warning
I apologize that this list isn't as detailed as it could be. I had not intended to write a review on this book and had to read it for school in less than 48 hours, so did not have much time to keep a detailed list of problems.
  • Orphans, often hopeless.
  • Children are "beaten" as punishment.
  • Children sneak out when they're not supposed to.
  • Mention of a circus lady being "barely dressed". She is idolized for her skills as a horse rider by Hetty.
  • Children are mean to each other.
  • People die. Children die.
  • A man, probably a pedophile, approaches Hetty and speaks to her. For the innocent reader, all you can tell is that he's a creepy person. For the more mature reader, the signs are there for us to know what this man is without the story becoming graphic.
  • A drunken man beats his children (mentioned but never shown).
My Thoughts

This seems to be the Laura Ingles Wilder series of Britain. It has its own show, has become a series, is historical fiction, and is very popular.

It's well written. I didn't need the impish redhead on the front of the book to know this girl was sassy, cute, and just trying to make it with what she's handed. The narration is well done, and mature themes are handled very appropriately. They are serious, but because of the narrator's age the story moves past them quickly. This risks making serious things feel trivial, but such as not the case. Just as death isn't trivial for children in reality, it's not trivial here either. It's just dealt with at a different speed, with a different understanding, and in a different way than adult readers would tend toward in their own lives.

Honestly, this is a very well-done book. There were points where I skimmed narration (possibly because of the short time frame I had to read the book). There were points when my frustration as a reader could not be reconciled by my knowledge as a writer and literary critique (those moments when there really seems no good reason for that plot point/twist to have happened).
Overall, though, it was well done. I won't be giving this book away any time soon, except as a loan, and as such, to anyone who is willing to take it.

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