Anna Roddick is a lonely 16-year-old. Her mother is a widely respected university science lecturer, so absorbed in her work that she hardly seems to notice she has a daughter. Anna has not seen her father since she was a child. Out of the blue she receives a letter from Edith Southwood, her father’s partner. It seems Anna’s father has died.
Edie (as she soon becomes known) suggests that she and Anna might meet. Edie turns out to be somewhat eccentric, but nevertheless much more interested in Anna and her welfare than Anna’s academically preoccupied mother. Gradually Edie and Anna form an ever closer bond.
Anna has a secret from the past. She was baby-sitting an unruly boy named Shay. While Anna was looking after him he attacked a cat. What followed remains a secret, which Anna divulges to her new friend. As it happens the episode following the attack on the cat was witnessed by a boy at Anna’s school, who uses his knowledge to try to blackmail her.
The big question at the heart of this novel is whether Edie can be trusted. Is she the kind and reliable friend she seems to be, or will a more sinister Edie appear? The answer to this question will only gradually emerge and will exert a massive influence on Anna’s life and wellbeing.
The book works well on the whole but there is one major flaw. The reader is presented with a picture of Anna’s mother that strains credulity. She is of course a busy scientist. But can she really be so preoccupied that her daughter can stay over at the home of someone her mother doesn’t know, of whose very existence she is unaware, without the mother expressing any concern or asking any questions? It doesn’t ring true. Where were you last night, daughter dear?