Singer is expert in depicting adolescent angst of the type that could seem paranoid to outsiders but vital truth to the individual concerned. This story describes the conflicting emotions of 14-year-old Tilly, whose mother is an alcoholic and whose father has opted out. But Granny is there to take some of the flack arising from Tilly’s unpopularity with her classmates. There is also a mysterious doll, made from materials her mother wore before a last suicide attempt. Although this is an object Tilly venerates, it is no friend to her, often urging her on in the imagination to even rasher behaviour in the face of her peers.
Only one contemporary has any time for this troubled girl, and he is an adopted Chilean boy with a genius for making music. But although Tilly finds him increasingly wonderful, he comes over on the page as a pompous prig rather than the romantic force capable of turning Tilly’s life round. Plot lines too become increasingly stretched as what started as a lively and well-crafted story disappointingly fizzles out well before its end.