Amy is aged 13. She has been in foster care since she was six years old. It has not been easy for Amy to find a permanent residence. As the story starts in fact Amy is entering her sixth foster placement. Amy had thought that her last placement would be her forever home. But the arrangement broke down, for reasons which Amy did not understand but which are later in the novel explained. In consequence she now finds it difficult to trust anyone. The question posed by Ainsworth’s novel is whether with the Dawson family Amy has any chance at all of finding a permanent home. Will she ever feel that she is loved for herself, as opposed to just being a charity case?
The power of this novel is that it is a first-person narrative which begins in medias res. The narrative moves with enough initial momentum to oblige the reader to see matters from Amy’s viewpoint, without mobilising any prejudices the reader might hold about foster parents and the children they care for. The situation in which Amy finds herself provokes a series of strong feelings and powerful reactions. Ainsworth does not shrink from describing them all in convincing detail. The book will serve to comfort anyone who has been in a similar situation to Amy’s, and to enlighten the many who have not.