Audiobook Spotlight #7

Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to a good start so far. Every Monday I do this post which showcases an audiobook that I have listened to. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I’m a big audiobook fan. Today I am reviewing a very different genre to my usual read.

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

Publication Date: 1st May 1999

Publisher: Yearling

Narrator: Josie Lawrence

Genre: Children

Format: audiobook

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3.5 stars

Goodread Synopsis

Dolphin adores her mother: she’s got wonderful clothes, bright hair and vivid tattoos all over her body. She definitely lives a colourful life. Dolphin’s older sister, Star, also loves her but is beginning to wonder if staying with a mum whose temper can be as flashy as her body-art is the best thing for the girls…

My Thoughts

As a child, I loved Jacqueline Wilson books but The Illustrated Mum is one I have never picked up. One of my book club friends is actually hosting a Jacqueline Wilson themed read-a-thon in February so if you want that nostalgia fix, then definitely check it out!

The thing that has cemented Wilson as one of the best children’s authors of recent years is the fact she does not shy away from challenging topics. And this book is no exception. Although I do not suffer from Bipolar, a friend of mine does and she has commented before that this book really hit home when she was younger.

Dolphin’s mum, Marigold, is in the midst of a manic episode as she impulsively gets more tattoos, impulse buys and goes out at night leaving her daughters at home alone. Although Dolphin and her sister Star, adore their mother, Star starts to realise that Marigold is not always in the best place to look after her children as she needs looking after herself and has little support around her. This book broke my heart in the descriptions of the relationship between the girls and their mother as, often, the roles were completely reversed. The book does not stray away from the messiness of mental illness which I think is incredibly important. There is no miracle cure. It’s a long slog with its highs and lows and it’s crucial that this is recognised if we are to normalise mental illness and develop sympathy for it in our society.

What made me enjoy this book, and what I didn’t like about it, come from the same thing: it’s a kids book. What I like about that is it is a children’s book which discusses (albeit in euphamisms) mental illness, mania, hypersexuality, depression, the care system, poverty, bullying, single parent families. To do so with such sensitivity should really be applauded. However, with it being a children’s book, I sometimes felt like some of the “action” was a bit skin deep or not explored enough, such as the introduction of Star and Dolphin’s respective biological fathers.

Now on to the narration. I almost DNFed this audiobook at the start because the narration was quite annoying until I got used to it. As the narrator, Dolphin is a child, Josie Lawrence, the audiobook narrator, puts on a very childish voice which seemed a bit caricaturist and OTT to me and grated for a while. However, her voices for the adults, particularly Marigold, were phenomenal. As a child, I doubt that this would have annoyed me, and sometimes it’s weird having a child’s voice acted by a very adult voice is equally as frustrating. It’s a hard balance to find.

The Illustrated Mum is a great portrayal of what it is like to be a child with a bipolar parents. Jacqueline Wilson succeeds again in tackling very challenging topics for a younger audience.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Were you, are are you still, a Jacqueline Wilson fan?


3 thoughts on “Audiobook Spotlight #7

  1. I used to love these books. This was one that I read as a teenager and I remember being in love with it! I’ve not picked one up in a long time but you’ve made me want to!

    Liked by 1 person

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