Book Review: Hetty Feather

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

London, 1876 and Hetty Feather is just a tiny baby when her mother leaves her at the Foundling Hospital. The Hospital cares for abandoned children – but Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school.
Life in the countryside is hard but with her ‘brothers’ Jem and Gideon, she helps in the fields and plays imaginary games. Together they sneak off to visit the travelling circus and Hetty is mesmerised by the show, especially Madame Adeline and her performing horses.
But Hetty’s happiness is threatened once more when she is returned to the Foundling Hospital. The new life of awful uniforms and terrible food is a struggle for her. But now she has the chance to find her real mother. Could she really be the wonderful Madame Adeline? Or will Hetty find the truth is even more surprising?

Growing up I always loved reading the books by Jacqueline Wilson. The Suitcase Kid helped me through my parents’ divorce, and Tracy Beaker appealed to my storyteller self. It has been a long time since I’ve pulled out any of these books. Now that I have a daughter myself, I have been waiting patiently to read some of my old favourites with her. Hetty Feather however, is one of the books I hadn’t read so it felt like the perfect place to start.

This book is extremely well written, and captures the life and emotions of Hetty Feather, a girl ripped from her foster family and sent to the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children. The story is essentially split into three parts: the foster family, the foundling hospital, and the escape from the foundling hospital. The first two parts are filled with story, but I found the final part to be a little lacking. A lot happens in a short space of time outside the hospital and to me it felt like it loses focus just a little bit. The time spent with the foster family and in the foundling hospital really shows Hetty’s fiery personality and a lot of time is spent on creating that image within the readers mind. The ‘escape’ portion of the plot just does not have that same kind of feel as the parts that come before it, but it is still an enjoyable story.

Hetty has a big imagination, a fiery personality, and a real talent for storytelling, all of which make her a very fun and charming character to read about. The book does a great job at transporting you to Victorian England and around several different aspects of it.

Hetty’s story makes you want to laugh, smile, and cry, as you feel every single emotion leaping off the page.

Have you read Hetty Feather? Let me know your thoughts!

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