The Runaway Girls

Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin (Penguin))

The Runaway Girls

Review by Sylvie
I really enjoyed reading this unputdownable book. It is a thought-provoking tale about the friendship, dilemmas and adventures of two girls. What stood out to me the most was that Kitty and Lucy made an unbreakable bond despite their differences, and they trusted each other a lot. I learned how Victorian citizens of London drew a firm line between poor people and rich people. They viewed the poor side as dirty, deceitful and inferior and warned others to avoid them. I also learned how most rich children had governesses and nurses, and young girls were expected to be ‘perfect little ladies’ and be dainty and polite.

Out of all the characters, I found Kitty the most interesting because she was very witty, unpredictable and adventurous. I disliked Miss Groan because she was so ready to punish and both misused and delighted in her authority. I would certainly recommend this book to others as it has vivid descriptions and it is very imaginative. 

Review by Molly
I found Lucy the most interesting character, because even though she really enjoyed living a life where she always was dressed in the finest clothes and had the best of everything, she gave that up. I didn’t like Lucy’s father, as he was always concentrating on his job and couldn’t even recognise his own daughter. Also, I didn’t like the new mother as she hated Lucy even though she hadn’t done anything to her. Another reason why I didn’t like the new mother is, that she wouldn’t let Lucy be in the same room let alone touch her own sister. Furthermore, I didn’t like Mrs Chubb, because she was planning to get rid of Kitty and make her live all by herself again and keep Lucy and not expect her to do anything about it.

I learnt that people would do anything just to get a small amount of money if they needed it that bad. The time it was set in made it more interesting, because you were judged on how you looked. For an example, before Lucy and Kitty bought their new clothes they were looked at with disgust and no respect. After they did buy the new clothes, they were considered good enough and were treated with an amount of respect like everyone else.

Additionally, I found the plot exciting as they were faced with many challenges, but they found their way out of it. I also found the plot serious, as two children were looking after each other and didn’t have a safe place to go or food that will be there at breakfast, lunch and so on. The thing that stands out to me the most is the fact that they both didn’t know what was going to happen to them, yet they still didn’t lose hope and fought their way through their problems and challenges. To add to that, it stood out to me that they didn’t give up on getting to see their loved ones again and tried and tried to get as close to them as possible. Another thing that stood out to me is that Kitty never stopped going to the chapel to speak to Gaffer even if she couldn’t be certain she was there.

This book has been one of the best I have ever read so I definitely recommend this book to anyone. Because I just couldn’t stop reading it and just wanted to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next. To conclude, I highly recommend this book, because it was nearly impossible to put it down and I felt a bit sad when I finished this book.

Review by Martha
I found Kitty most interesting because she had been abandoned when she was a baby and has lived on her own for the rest of her life when the man who had found her had been sent to jail. I also like Kitty because she is brave and doesn’t give up on anything. She also takes very good care of Lucy.

I didn’t like Lucy’s dad because he wasn’t a good parent to Lucy and only fed her scraps of bread. When they went to the seaside he couldn’t even recognise his own daughter and nearly took another girl home instead of Lucy. Her dad is always away on business and leaves Lucy at home.

I learnt that people had to beg and try really hard to get money. I also learnt that some people were very rich and had more things than some people have today. Rich people had maids, servants, cooks, nurses and teachers all to themselves.

[What made the history interesting to me was] the way that even young children had to go around all by themselves with no one because they have no parents or anyone to look after them. Also that most people have to beg, not just a couple of people. There is a lot of families who have lots of children.

I found [the plot] thought provoking and interesting because some of the things that ended up happening I did not expect at all. I found it interesting because I learnt new things about the past that I didn’t already know about.

The thing that stands out the most from the book for me is that Kitty and Lucy both managed to get lots of nice food, places to sleep and brand new clothes. Also that they managed to stay best friends even though they had a few arguments.

I definitely would [recommend it to other people].

Review by Gwen
This book is based in Victorian London, 1851. The plot immediately presents the age-old classic of two juxtaposing characters meeting and sharing their skills to survive together. To be really honest, this initially turned me off the book as it seemed very cliched and I didn’t really want to read something that had the exact same lot as many other novels. However, I did return to the book and it was enjoyable even though many of the features of the storyline did seem to be familiar tropes. Even though the overall plot did not really grab me, I still enjoyed some of the individual scenes (for example, when Lucy and Kitty are placed in danger) and reading about the features of nineteenth-century London life. Overall, I did not find The Runaway Girls as intriguing as books such as The Hunger Games series, but it is nonetheless a good read. Jacqueline Wilson did do a good job in writing this book, but I am simply not the target audience to fully appreciate it.

Review by Victoria
I really enjoyed the book because of the way it was written, and the characters included. It is a very enjoyable and heart-warming, but also very realistic because of what the characters do in the book, which happen in real life as well. It is a way for readers to know that not everyone leads a luxury/nice life. It is the type of book that has you reading it in one go. It is the type of book that make readers more aware of how life was in the Victorian times.

The time it was set in made it interesting for me because the way people lived their lives, how the ladies dressed, and the way they acted. It was also the way that people bought up their children, to be strict and firm. I also found out that children of rich families did not go to school, but instead had a Nurse or a governess to teach them, and take care of them, instead of the children’s parents doing it.

What made me love the book so much was the two main characters, Kitty and Lucy, that come from opposite backgrounds. Lucy is a picture-perfect girl that is well raised from a rich family and has the best manners, while Kitty is a street urchin, begging for food and money and lives on the streets of Victorian London. It shocked me that a girl like Lucy would run away from home and risk her life on the streets. When the girls meet, they build a strong friendship and teach each other ways to survive. I loved reading how the girls survived in so many different circumstances and yet came out alive.

The two characters that I disliked was Mrs Chubb and Mrs Turnover because of the way they acted round the girls. Mrs Chubb was nice to Lucy but to Kitty, she was mean. In the book it says that Mrs Chubb locks Kitty in a bedroom, because she thought that Kitty pushed Lucy over, when really it was Lucy that pushed Kitty in the first place, because they started arguing. I think that Mrs Chubb likes Lucy more because of her manners and how she was raised. In the book, it also says that Mrs Chubb and Mr Chubb are going to kick Kitty out, but not tell Lucy. Lucy hears her saying this and tells Kitty and they make a plan to run away from them. They succeed but only then get into trouble in the streets for ‘thieving’, where they were took to Junior House of Correction, where they come face to face with Mrs Turnover. Mrs Turnover then makes fun of Kitty for not having a surname and treats all the other children there terribly. Lucy and Kitty run away from her as well- on the same day- and they planned to go to the countryside and try to find Lucy’s Nurse.

I would definitely recommend this book to other pupils so they can know better from life in the past, with interesting characters added to the mix. It is a great book for teenagers because of some of the language that was used.

I learned a lot of new words because this was set long ago, so the language they used would be a bit different to what we use now.

Review by Zlata
I think that the character I found most interesting was called Kitty. Kitty was a girl who grew up on the streets while Lucy is a girl who grew up in a rich house. The character Kitty was quite bold and liked to do her own thing which I found quite interesting compared to Lucy who was born into a rich family, Lucy is a character who is more likely to listen to rules but wants to have fun, one day she wanted to go outside and have fun so she escaped from her house, she got lost and couldn't go back. In this book I learnt that in this time period prisoners could still be sent to Australia as punishment, Kitty had someone that took care of her called Gaffer but he then went to prison.

One character I didn't like was the lady that took in Lucy and Kitty for a short time, the lady liked Lucy but hated Kitty so she wanted to keep Lucy as her daughter and to throw Kitty out into the streets. This time period was interesting because compared to the way things are now it is very different, for example girls couldn't wear trousers. The plot was quite light hearted but serious at the same time because the girls would be out on the streets but since Kitty has experience they would always manage to find a solution to their problems.

I would recommend this book for younger kids as it looks at problems in a light hearted manner.

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