Lori Palmer is 17 years old. She has just moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa. Lori is a very talented artist. Back home she was enrolled in a school for arts. In Cape Town however she is enrolled at Baywater High School, where Lori who is plus sized and insecure feels as out of place as she could possibly feel. She lives with her Mum, who is still dealing with a very acrimonious divorce, and with her brother aged nine, Zac, who is autistic.
Lori’s mother is suffering from severe emotional stress. She discovered her husband’s adulterous behaviour with a much younger woman in highly disturbing circumstances, with which she has not yet come to terms. As a result the burden of care for young Zac has fallen almost exclusively on Lori. The task is burdensome, despite the strong affection Lori feels for her little brother. The novel poses two questions. How will Lori find her true place in her new environment, both educationally and personally? And what kind of Lori will emerge from these harrowing experiences?
The development of this novel is marked by two noticeable traits. The first is the serious discussion of Lori’s mental health and the journey she has undertaken to find the place where she now finds herself. The description of this journey is recounted with immense sensitivity. This reviewer can easily imagine the account coming as a comfort to readers placed in similar situations. The second impressive feature of this book is the author’s command of characterisation. Zac is portrayed as a fully three-dimensional person whose relationship with his sister is convincing.
The book however begins on a note that falls below the standard it later achieves, starting off as if it were nothing but a conventional high school romance. Readers must persist to discover that the book is something far more significant.