Published by Hogarth, July 2013 ****
The sad realities of the social-work/foster care system in Scotland are laid bare through 15 year old Anais’s story. Her world of drugs, violence and prostitution is a bleak one. It’s a mildly difficult book, not just because of Anias’s depressing circumstances. It took me about 50 pages to get used to the Scottish dialect and slang, and the narrative is infused with the girl’s paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre imagery.
Anais is sent to the Panopticon after a police officer is brutally attacked, but she has no recollection of whether she was involved in the incident that put the cop in a coma. In the new group home, Anias befriends a motley group of adolescents who all have tragic stories of their own. As she becomes closer to these misfits, more of her story comes out, emphasizing how ineffective the system is. These friendships are rare and special to her, but misfortune is a constant. Anais is a witness to suicide, a victim of rape, an abuser of substances, and a casualty of her own proclivities.
It was a great book once I adapted to the author’s unique nuances. My only disappointment was that some significant plot points were left unresolved (What happened to her friend Tash? What were the specifics of her foster mother’s murder? Was she responsible for assaulting the cop?) But the conclusion was satisfying and by the end I definitely developed a soft spot for Anais.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via TLC Book Tours.