This powerful and gripping novel opens a window into the lives and the impossible situations of two teenage girls forced to deal with issues not of their making and that neither should have to face on their own.
Josie has grown up with an obsessive mother who hoards everything and spends their meagre allowance in charity shops in the mistaken belief she is saving the planet. Josie cannot bring back friends to her home and it isn’t until she meets a new boy at the swimming pool where she often uses the showers that she realises how lonely she feels. Josie longs for a flat of her own which is neat and tidy but she is trapped in a cycle of protecting and caring for her mother.
Tasha does not want for anything materially but her mother has taken up with a new boyfriend and dismisses her daughter’s pleas that the new boyfriend is making unwelcome advances. Tasha begins to feel seriously unsafe in her own home but has no-one to turn to.
Although not friends at school the girls find themselves thrown together as their lives implode around them. Tasha is terrified of being left alone in her own house so turns up on Josie’s doorstop one day as she has noticed she lives nearby. Meanwhile Josie’s mother has been jailed for non-payment of council tax leaving Josie alone to cope. Discovering they both have family secrets they form an unlikely but deep bond trying to keep out of the way of social services and helping each other in the absence of any parental support.
Told in alternating chapters from Josie and Tasha’s point of view this is a brave and challenging book laying bare the spiral of descent into homelessness that can happen all too quickly and the feelings of helplessness in the face of mental health issues and abuse. The girls learn to think on their feet and find an inner strength they did not know they had. Despite the tough subject the book is ultimately uplifting although the ending seemed a little rushed and there were instances that stretched incredulity at times. A useful springboard for classroom discussion.