The Suitcase Kid
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The Suitcase Kid is a children's novel written by Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Nick Sharratt. The story focuses upon a young girl caught between her warring parents' bitter divorce, and the determination the girl has to get her parents back together, as is common amongst children whose parents are divorcing. However, as the young girl proceeds, she realizes that she has to accept that her parents will not reunite and that she must move on like they did.
Andrea, known as Andy in the story, is a tall, awkward ten-year-old whose parents have recently divorced. Much to her dismay, her dad wants her to live with him and her mum wants her to live with her! Her mother remarries Bill, (whom Andy calls Bill the Baboon). Andy has a strong dislike for him, as well as his other three children (especially Katie, a girl five days older than Andy). Her father remarries Carrie, who has twins Zen and Crystal and is pregnant with her dad's new baby. Andy doesn't mind Carrie and her kids as much as Bill and his, but she still wishes she could have her dad to herself. Although Andy's dad and mum want Andy for themselves alone, they still decide that Andy would stay one week with her mum and one week with her dad.
Throughout the book, Andy wishes that her parents would get back together and move back into their little house called Mulberry Cottage. Andy loses focus at school, getting poorer results, and loses touch with her previous best friend, Aileen. As she becomes more and more isolated, she draws support from her spotted Sylvanian Families rabbit, Radish, often playing imaginary games with her.
One day she finds a secret garden with mulberries growing in it, and she begins to go there after school. She accidentally drops Radish down a tree and can't get her out. Andy runs away in the middle of the night to get Radish. Her parents are distraught but soon find her. Andy insists that she must go and retrieve Radish, and they meet the owners of the garden, Mr and Mrs Peters, who soon befriend Andy, acting as honorary grandparents. She makes new friends and they are friendly, giving kind gifts to her and Radish.
By the end of the book, Andy has befriended her step-siblings, (including Zoe, Carrie's new baby daughter) and accepted that her parents are not getting back together.
- Andrea (Andy) - main character and protagonist
- Radish - Andy's beloved Sylvanian Family rabbit to whom she can talk about problems and is actually a mascot.
- Mum (Carol) - Andrea's mother
- Dad (Simon) - Andrea's father
- Bill (The Baboon or Un-Uncle Bill) - Andy's mother's new partner, a painter and decorator.
- Graham - Bill's shy son from a previous marriage and Andy's new mate
- Paula - Bill's outgoing daughter from his previous marriage
- Katie - Bill's sly and spoiled youngest daughter from his previous marriage who calls Andy "Andy Pandy"
- Carrie - Andrea's father's new partner, a dreamy hippie
- Zen and Crystal - Carrie's two five-year-old twins from a previous marriage
- Aileen - An old friend of Andy from whom she has drifted apart since the divorce of Andrea's parents
- Fiona - A girl whom Aileen befriends
- Miss Maynard - The headmistress of Andy's school
- Mr Roberts - The owner of a sweet shop that Andy, Graham and Katie visit at the weekends
- Mr and Mrs Peters - A kind elderly couple whom Andy befriends toward the end of the book
- Zoe (Originally Ethel) - The new born daughter of Andy's father and Carrie, born at the end of the book, whom Andy takes a shine to.
References in other Jacqueline Wilson books
"The Suitcase Kid" is mentioned in two other novels by Jacqueline Wilson. In Girls Out Late, Russell tells Ellie that after his parents divorce he used to spend one week with his mum, and one week with his dad. Ellie says that she once read a book about a girl like that. In Clean Break the protagonist Em and her friend Jenny discuss a book called "Piggy in the Middle" by Jenna Williams, that has a plotline almost identical to that of "The Suitcase Kid", except that the toy is not a rabbit called Radish but, in fact, a pig called Turnip.
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