When Ella's mum goes into a coma after the birth of Ella's half brother, Ella has to deal with living with her stepfather, changing friendships and the uncertainty as to whether her mother will ever wake up.
A lot of the reviews I've seen say that this isn't a book about whales at all, but I disagree. Whales, and learning about them, are Ella's way of coping with everything that's happening to her. I mean, sure, Ella could have easily focused on, let's say, wolves or deer instead, but Jacqueline Wilson chose whales. Whales have a mysterious and almost romantic quality about them, so it is easy to see why they might captivate a child's imagination.
This was a sad book, and I am very
glad I didn't read this whilst my own mother was still pregnant. It's not a book to calm nerves about that sort of thing! I teared up a couple of times whilst reading this, because it's just that type of book. Good on Jacqueline Wilson for dealing with the fact that pregancy is not always straight forward, though.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the character of Jack, Ella's stepdad. He is not a horrible, abusive stepdad, but, actually, he isn't great either. He has no idea how to treat Ella, or how to look after her, and sometimes he is actually kind of mean to her (though I don't think he means to be). I approve highly of multi-faceted characters in middle-grade fiction. :)
That goes for Ella too, actually. She could be the most horrific brat at times.
The only thing that bothered me about this book was the ending (and I'm beginning to notice a trend here, with me and endings to Jacqueline Wilson books). It was just so... wishy washy. It wasn't vague, not really, but it just kind of descended into some blah blah poetic prose. Gah. Way to ruin what could have been a very poignant moment.
However, I do recommend reading this book if you are a Jacqueline Wilson fan. It's one of her better newer ones. Just don't give it to a kid whose mother is about to have a baby, unless you want to frighten the hell out of them. o.o