"A sensitive and perceptive story of a family crisis and the deep impact it has upon their daughter"
There can be no doubt that Cath Howe’s teaching experience contributes to her ability to create such nuanced and believably real children in her stories and when she places them in difficult circumstances, the way in which they cope and learn and grow from their experiences has an undeniable aura of truth. The reader can empathise and learn alongside the characters they quickly become so grippingly concerned about.
It can also be rare to find such multifaceted adult characters in children’s fiction. It is so important for children to understand that adults are not perfect, can make mistakes but can also learn from them.
Ren's home has burnt down, and her family have lost everything. They move in with her stern grandmother whose house rules are very different, and her parents are so wrapped up in insurance claims and trying to save their business that nobody notices how much Ren and her little brother are struggling. We see how Ren’s distress provokes her to steal precious things from other people but although she feels compelled to do it, she is simultaneously wracked by guilt.
The story’s other narrator is a wonderful character called Caspar who talks and thinks and shares just a little more than is normal, which can be exasperating but his good intentions can never be doubted. Caspar is on the trail of the missing objects but also wants to help Ren. Is it possible to do both?
This would make an excellent class read because of the complex moral choices and social issues the characters have to navigate and will really stimulate discussion. Like all her novels this is a primary library must-have.