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Emerald Star by Jacqueline Wilson was published in 2012. It is illustrated by Nick Sharatt, has a RRP of £12.99 and the paperback edition is 419 pages long.
This book is the third book around the main character Hetty Feather. The first is called Hetty Feather and the second Sapphire Battersea. These titles are each of Hetty's names. She was named Hetty Feather in the Foundling hospital where her mother left her as a child. Wanting a new life and identity she had changed her name to Sapphire Battersea for her adventures in the second book and now she has decided to change it again and go for the name Emerald Star.
Hetty's mother got a job in the foundling hospital so that she could see her daughter grow up even after she had given her up after pressure from her own parents. To get this job, Hetty's mother herself had had to create a new identity so nobody would realise she had a daughter in the hospital and would not allow her to work there. After the death of her mother, Hetty has decided to try and trace her biological father which is going to prove difficult. She knows from her mother's tales where they met and he used to live. She also knows his first name is Bobbie.
Hetty makes her way to the fishing town of Monksby, hoping her father is still living there. The people of Monksby are not used to strangers and Hetty really stands out from the locals, she finds a friend in a local lady named Lizzie, who feeds her and puts her up for the night and the two become close.
It isn't long before Hetty thinks she has found her father, he also believes that she could be his daughter, but his wife and children who he met since he was with her mother are not so sure. They take an instant disliking to Hetty, especially as she doesn't even know her mothers real name and has so little information. As the story was set in Victorian times, there wasn't a Jeremy Kyle to see and get DNA done.
Hetty decides to write to someone she was friendly with who works at the hospital to see if she would tell her the name her mother had when she took her there but it seems Hettty didn't leave on the best of terms and may have got into a bit of bother so wasn't sure if she would get a reply.
The story follows Hetty as she tries to fit in in this new town, her relationships with her new family and also some communication with figures from her past. Just when she seems to start to be making a bit of progress with her new family she receives a letter from a previous foster family with some bad news so she visits them to see if she can help. Can she build a new life and find happiness or will she return to an old life?
Although this is the third book in the series, it was the first which I had read. I would like to read the others and although it would have been better for me to read them in .order, if you wanted to read this book alone I feel it gives enough background information that you wouldn't need to read the previous books to enjoy it at all.
I found this book a lot more serious and less comical that many of Jacqueline Wilson's books, yet still really enjoyable. Being set many years ago, it is quite educational as to what life was like then compared to modern times and there are some good reading notes at the back of the book. It is quite a long book but doesn't drag at all and is interesting from start to finish. It really draws you in and you feel like you get to know the character of Hetty well. Although she is a tiny waif like girl she isn't going to be bossed around and knows how to stand up for herself. You will find yourself feeling sorry for this poor girl who doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. You'll be laughing at her, angry with her and hoping she finds happiness.
I would highly recommend this book and would really like to read the previous books in the series.
Quick update - After a bit of research it seems this book is written for 8 - 12 year olds but I personally think this should be 8 onwards because I could see older than 12 year olds really enjoying the book.