Twin sisters Vicky and Rhianna and their younger brother Jamie live with foster carers. Despite their mother’s death and the disappearance of their father, they are coping well. But when circumstances change and the family has to be split up, the children decide to run away. After a difficult journey they reach Great Auntie Irene’s – with whom they once spent an idyllic summer holiday – only to find her gone. Eventually captured, they have to make their case for staying together to their all-powerful social workers.
Desperate Measures is told entirely in the voices of the two sisters. Rhianna, who is described as having special needs, alternates with Vicky who has all the typical preoccupations of a 14-year-old girl, but also carries a heavy burden of responsibility for her siblings. The other characters are brought to life through the different perspectives of the girls, whose voices are compelling and convincing.
The story works on many different levels; it’s an exciting adventure with plenty of drama and humour but it also addresses serious social and moral issues, such as the meaning of responsibility and loyalty. The book also explores the importance of social acceptance and the bonds of family, and has significant comments to make about friendship, loneliness and bullying.
Thought-provoking and moving, Desperate Measures is a valuable addition to the library of any middle or secondary school, and will be enjoyed by both girls and boys from ten upwards.