Gibbons never shies away from dealing with the tough issues. Aidan has to come to terms not only with his mother’s past, but also with the fact that he is a product of that past. On a visit to his mother’s home town to see her ailing father, Aidan learns that his father is not Mark, the businessman raising him in leafy surburbia, but Deegan, a drug dealing gangster by whom his mother fell pregnant as a teenager.
On this trip Aidan meets a girl very like his mother at the same age. Jade is young, plucky, in a bad relationship and pregnant. Unlike Aidan’s mother, Jade comes from an abusive, not a supportive, home. Aidan provides some light, some hope, in her life, but he is torn between her and Emily, the girl from his other, safe, clean, life. Aidan’s mother had to make hard choices – remain with the exciting gangster she loved, or build a life for herself and Aidan far away from it all. She chose the latter. Aidan has to make choices between Deegan and Mark, between Jade and Emily.
In dealing with these dilemmas, Aidan comes to understand that nothing in life, nothing about relationships, is black and white. By making his own decisions, and his own mistakes, he comes to appreciate the difficulties his mother faced, and accept her as a person, not just his mother.
Whilst the plot is exciting and main theme intriguing, the book raises several other issues of class and of gender, all of which contribute to making it a most worthwhile addition to the bookshelves of any home, school or library. Some tiny stylistic things did niggle – perhaps the adult writer trying too hard to write from the young person’s perspective shows through and that grates a little. Then there were references to a Stephen King book which I had to look up to understand. But these are small things. All in all, it’s a great book which both my 15-year-old and I enjoyed.