Book Review: Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Katy Carr is a lively, daredevil oldest sister in a big family. She loves messing around outdoors, climbing on the garage roof, or up a tree, cycling, skateboarding, swinging.... But her life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident.

Inspired by the classic novel, What Katy Did, Jacqueline Wilson creates an irresistible twenty-first-century heroine. Fans of Hetty Feather and Tracy Beaker will fall in love with Katy and her family too.

Image: Puffin / Big Shot PR
For years I've been a big Jacqueline Wilson fan, so when I was offered the chance to review some of her latest books I couldn't pass up the opportunity! The first of these books was Katy, Wilson's modern-day retelling of the classic What Katy Did. I have to admit my memories of the original story were a little hazy (having not read it since my own childhood), but I could remember enough to know the basic direction of the storyline.

Character development

I've read a lot of reviews of this book where the reviewers have complained about various aspects of it. One of the chief complaints was that the story takes too long to get going - we're about 200 pages in before Katy has her accident. Personally, I don't find this a problem. I think we need this much of an introduction to be able to properly get to grips with Katy and her family. If we don't fully see what Katy is like before her accident, the effects it has on her not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, aren't fully appreciated later on in the book.

After all, the way that the accident affects Katy is the real meat of this story, much more so than the actual accident itself. Katy's life changes overnight, and the way that she has to come to terms with this is what is most interesting to read about. Of course, disability is a big issue for Katy to tackle, and I think Wilson deals with it very well. I've seen some people questioning the use of certain derogatory terms and disability slurs that various characters use in the book, but I don't see it as a problem here because they are only mentioned in context, and in a real-life situation, sadly, it's likely that these terms would be used. If anything, I think the way that the majority of Katy's family and friends deal with her disability is spot on, because it's reinforcing the point that Katy, as a person, hasn't changed - she's still the same as she was before the accident.

Realism

During the first half of the book, Wilson stays largely true to the original. However, in What Katy Did, Katy eventually recovers the use of her legs after changing her character and doing 'good deeds'. In Wilson's version, this doesn't happen. I applaud the author for making this choice, especially as it helps to ground the story and makes it even more relatable to its audience. It's realistic, and in these circumstances, that's important.

All in all, I have to disagree with those negative reviews I've read. I think this is a very strong retelling of a classic children's story, and the tricky subject matter only proves Wilson's worth as a master storyteller even further!

Rating: 4 stars.

Katy is available to buy now.

Are you a Jacqueline Wilson fan? Let me know in the comments below!

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