I did enjoy the book although it took me a while to get into Lizzie's 'voice'. At first I hoped there might be a change of point of view part way through, but once I accepted that it was going to be Lizzie all the way I relaxed into it. I enjoyed Lizzie's reporting of her mother's comments and attitudes which provided much of the book's humour and the book is peppered with wry, witty and honest observations on life, families, pets, etc., 'It's like having over-diluted Ribena,' our mother explained. 'it's almost worse than having no Ribena at all.' was one of my favourite observations (although there are plenty of funnier examples in the book). There's also lots of 1970's references to enjoy.
I did get the premise of the story: that someone Lizzie's age would worry about being taken into care and that the children would 'rally round' their mother, who was clearly struggling with her personal demons. I found Lizzie's reporting of her mother's 'language' quite in character for both of them and it added to the humour and texture of the story so I didn't find it offensive at all.
Having finished the book, I find the characters of Lizzie, her sister and brother, and her mother (and dog!) remain with me and I can visualise their houses and the assortment of neighbours, friends, etc., which for me is the sign of a well-crafted book. I would recommend this for summer holiday reading, or for whenever you are feeling a little jaded with life 'as is'.
I would like to ask Nina about her reasons for including Lizzie's mother's play dialogue - it didn't seem to carry the plot any farther forward. Was it to inject some 'white space', or for another reason? And, without naming names, were any of the main characters (humans or animals) inspired by her own experiences.
Thanks Nina, and Gransnet, for a good read.