13-year-old Duffy is staying with his nan for the summer while his mum and seriously ill little sister are in America for a life-saving operation. Duffy suffers mildy from Tourette's Syndrome - he only knows his gran and one of her neighbour's kids, a loud, insensitive kid called Stephen - what's he going to do for six whole weeks! Then Duffy meets Alice, a girl his age who lives next door, a girl who Nan disapproves of and everyone in the town thinks is mad; a girl who makes Duffy feel accepted and liked. Alice is volatile, and direct and Duffy tells her all about his little sister, his Tourette's and his absent father who left his mum because of him. Alice is more cryptic about her own home life. Everyone knows her adoptive father, Big Norm; he's the most popular man around; a devout Evangelist who runs a care home - Duffy's nan adores him. Yet Alice and her adopted sister are half in awe, half frightened of their dad; desperate for his approval, yet somehow resentful of him, too. It isn't until Alice shows Duffy the story she's been writing, written in the style of Alice in Wonderland, that the scales finally fall from his eyes. Big Norm has been abusing Alice, to what extent it isn't clear, but she's terrified, and he has to help her. Duffy convinces Alice to face her situation in the real world, not just in a story, and to tell his nan what's been going on. When the truth is out, Alice is taken into care, and Duffy faces the fact he may never see her again, but 'bad Alice' touched his life - he will never forget her.