Kate Hanney has the cynical and demoralised - yet somehow exceedingly stoic - voice of Northern youth down pat. The protagonist, Danny, has a worldly wisdom beyond his years. He is hardened, unresponsive, yet never callous. This is demonstrated by his evident love for his little sister, who he cares for deeply, often taking over the role of parent when their own mother isn't around to cook, care for or pick up from school.
I love the scene when one day out of boredom he decides to go to school, only to find mock GCSEs are being taken that morning and he's shuffled along into the exam room. He just goes along with it, but then wonders how he's going to fill the next two hours. He counts the ceiling tiles, looks around a bit, but the idea of actually having a go at the exam doesn't really cross his mind. In the end he thinks he'll look at one of the questions, but can't really be bothered, so he doesn't.
Nothing touches Danny. He's just along for the ride. Until things start going desperately wrong, that is, and his totally indifferent view on teenage life is thrown into complete turmoil.
I don't know how I wanted the book to end. Maybe a prison sentence perhaps as a lesson to any teenagers forced down the same path. When the end does come, however, it is much harder to take than this.
Kate Hanney should be applauded for creating a masterpiece. Buy this book. Read it first then hand it over to your teenagers. A well-deserved 5-STAR!