This is a story in part at least about how young people respond to today’s flexible partnership arrangements. Poppy is aged fourteen, in year nine at school. Her mother has a new partner, Richie. He is moving in together with his own daughter Kayla, aged sixteen. Poppy detests her mother’s new man. She adores her father and resent her mother for kicking him out.
At school Poppy witnesses another girl, Emily, being bullied. Poppy supports Emily in her hour of need and then becomes a target for the same mean girls. They pour a milkshake over Poppy’s head, film it and post the video on a school chat room for everyone to see and comment on.
In her hour of need Poppy turns to her absent father. She is not sure how far she can rely on his support, or indeed what secrets might be unveiled as a result of her seeking help.
Despite the brevity of a book under a hundred pages, Ainsworth pulls off a considerable authorial feat. In this short span she presents three complete and separate strands of narrative development – namely the reaction to flexible partnership arrangements, cyber bullying and the secret flaw of Poppy’s father, which underlay his expulsion from the family home. Inevitably the reader feels that each of these three narrative themes could have been developed at greater length. The important point however is to appreciate the skill with which the author has addressed this particular target.