I’ve never written a review of a book on my blog before but I was so impressed by this book that I had to do it.

Firstly, an honest confession that I had put off reading this book, feeling it would have content that would make my heart ache. I was right, it did indeed make my heart ache and there were times that I felt I wanted to cry. But don’t let that admission of mine put you off, for this book is so worth reading.

The story centres upon the two main characters, Jem, a young boy of fourteen and Katrina, a social worker and each chapter is seen either through the eyes of Jem or Katrina. You know straight away that Jem’s situation isn’t what it should be; he is a caring young lad trying desperately to look after his family because his mother is ‘ill’. The situation escalates from a bad situation to worse and the social services are brought in, where we meet Katrina.

One can’t help wondering about this woman, who is the best social worker in her office but it seems that essentially it’s because she doesn’t care. But does she? The story surrounding her unfolds in an interesting way.

I am not into giving spoilers in my reviews but I will say that I have worked in child care and have myself written a book based around it. Ms Spencer shows that she has great understanding of the complexities of addiction and the consequences of bad situations in childhood affecting the adults that those children grow up into. However, don’t get the idea this is heavy reading, it’s very far from it. It gripped me from the beginning and found it hard to put down; these characters evoked tender feelings in me as they played their roles. I rather loved the boy nick-named ‘Spooky’ and I do wonder how many children are so injured by the thoughtlessness of the people who are supposed to love and care for them. I have known and worked with children like him – and loved them too. Spooky needed someone who cared, and in Jem he found someone who did, and likewise Jem was the recipient of caring and help from his friend in the only ways Spooky could provide. This friendship touched my heart.

This book is, I feel, a triumph and should be read by lots more people. Thank you for this inspiring story, Barbara Spencer.

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