Louise Coulson is different. She likes to eat foods of a certain colour on designated days, doesn’t eat certain food groups at the same time, loves trains and timetables and is profoundly uncomfortable around large groups of people. Inevitably, she is cruelly bullied at school but tells no-one. To add to her woes, her family life is far from tranquil. Her father, who teaches at the school she attends, is having an affair with a sixth-former and has left the family home to be with her, increasing the bullying which Lou has to endure. The affair proves too much for her mother, whose mental health deteriorates to the extent that she has to be sectioned, albeit briefly
Into the midst of this misery and isolation comes Faith, born by surrogacy, raised by her two mothers, outrageously dressed, home-schooled, well-versed in philosophy and fiercely opposed to bullying of any kind. She becomes Lou’s unlikely champion-two talented but markedly unconventional young women forging a friendship on their own unusual terms. Faith is Amazonian in build and attitude and gives Lou the support she so badly needs, but the adventure and excitement she brings to Lou’s life begins to overwhelm her and, in a moment of panic, she abruptly ends the friendship.
This crisis in Lou’s life, when she must step out of her comfort zone or lose someone whose friendship she enjoys, is one which will be familiar to many young people. The stresses of modern life are clearly shown in Critchley’s narrative through Lou’s overly ordered behaviour and her talent for observation and self-analysis. Her `notes on my family’ are revealing, perceptive and hugely entertaining with dry humour woven through. Her decision to approach Faith in order to try to renew their friendship is a brave one and when Faith reveals her own tendency to depression the two forge a new relationship based on a mutual understanding and acceptance of their difficulties. This book will reassure many readers-particularly young women who have lost their way in our often bewildering society. The narrative needs tightening in places, with some passages overlong and rather repetitive, but Faith, Lou and the travails of Lou’s family need to be widely read.