The Bed and Breakfast Star by Jacqueline Wilson is a childhood book that still provides an impact to me, years after I first read it. Unlike Vicky Angel and The Story of Tracy Beaker, The Bed and Breakfast Star is what I consider Jacqueline Wilson’s less well known books.
The story is about Elsa, a ten year girl who ends up living in a bed and breakfast hotel after her family becomes homeless. She details her life from her Dad not being in her life to Mack becoming her step-dad. The arrival of Pippa and Hank her half sister and brother and her dreams of becoming an comedian.
Reading the book again as a 27 year old compared to a 12 year old at the time, I was really surprised at the number of hard hitting topics the book covers – homelessness, violence (her stepdad smacked her whenever she was being naughty), truancy, family separation, benefits and the impact of drink and gambling. Although you could see that her mother loved her, I don’t think Elsa’s mum was the best. Her mother struggled to get out of bed some days (in her situation you could completely see why) and really relied on Elsa too much to look after Pippa and Hank which isn’t Elsa’s role and to her detriment meant that Elsa didn’t go to school. You could see, however, why her mother fell apart, anyone would in that situation.
For those children that are going through similar issues it must have been a comfort to know that they are not the only one and that other children go through situations like this as well. For children like myself at the time, who had a warm bed and a roof over my head which wasn’t going to be taken away from me. My only grumbles was sharing a room with my sister (which was rare for children of the 90’s to do), which looking back was so stupid and short sighted of me.
As an adult, you do realise that it is likely Elsa isn’t going to have a happy ending and Jacqueline Wilson doesn’t give her one as that isn’t always the reality for those in Elsa’s situation. This is what I like about Jacqueline Wilson and why her books have done so well as she isn’t afraid to tackle real life topics which to be honest at that time most other authors didn’t for that age group. Jacqueline Wilson interweaves these topics through the first person narrative. To me this was ideal as you got to experience for a short while what it is like to be Elsa and I feel has more impact than if it was written in third person.
Finally, the illustrations by Nick Sharratt are awesome as usual. I completely forgot most, if not all of Jacqueline Wilson’s book’s are illustrated inside as well so it was a little extra treat and complemented the book as well.
Have you read The Bed and Breakfast Star? What is your favourite Jacqueline Wilson book?