Top critical review
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A well written book about child abuse
on 9 April 2001
This is a very sad and difficult book to read because it deals with an unpleasant situation. It is about a little girl called Tulip who suffers mental and physical cruelty at home which no-one can stop happening. Her continued bad behaviour is a cry for help which is not answered and over several years she became mentally ill.
The story is written through the eyes of her best friend Natalie.It starts with Natalie's family moving in to a new area and running a hotel. Natalie is lonely and sees Tulip with a kitten in a field. Tulip is hesitant to speak but decides to be friends with Natalie. No-one questioned why, except police officer Stallworthy who later wondered what Tulip saw in Natalie. Everyone else shuns Tulip who rarely attended school an was always difficult and unpleasant. Natalie's mum states 'She's bright enough to see tha if people like her go around exactly what they want, everyone's miserable.'
The whole book becomes more uncomfortable and sinister. Natalie is banned from visiting Tulip's house. she visits once but is very frightened by what she sees and the odd behaviour of Tulip's parents especially her father who is a vindictive bully.
Natalie's father summed her up when he said "to really know right from wrong you need a certain emotional sympathy, and you learn that from being treated properly yourself." "If you've been brought up as if your feelings don't matter, you probably assume other people's don't matter much either."
Tulip spends as much time as possible with Natalie to escape her home, but the games they play are always weird such as Havoc, Road of Bones or Stinking Mackerel. Natalie's little brother Julius was often the but of these games and he got very scared and frightened by them. Gradually the games became wilder and more frightening. First Tulip favoured dustbin fires but slowly she switched to annoying neighbours, menacing bereaved parents, fellow pupils, terrorizing pets and leaving dead animals in cages.
No-one ever seemed to stop her or help her situation, so the darker side inside Tulip surfaced. As Natalie said "In her(Tulip's) eyes it was the world that was wrong. If the world had only been right, if things had only fallen out the way they should then she would never have to lie, or steal or be spiteful."
Natalie realises that Tulip is out of control and becomes so frightened she backs away and concentrates on her schoolwork. This disturbs Tulip who cannot handle the rejection and ends up burning down the hotel in an act of revenge. The book leaves a sense of sadness and guilt that no-one had really tried to reach out and help Tulip.Natalie sums it up "Each horrible thing that happens makes a difference and there have been too many of those in Tulip's life."
I did not enjoy this book because it made feel uncomfortable. It is well written because youm never know what is happening in Tulip's life which adds to the suspense. Don't read this book before bed time because you will never sleep!!!!!