Blood Family

Publisher: Doubleday

Locked away by his mother's abusive, alcoholic partner Harris, Edward is seven years old before a watching neighbour makes up her mind to tell social services about the pale face she sees early in the morning, peering through a crack in a boarded up window. He has never been to school, can barely remember the outside world, and has been exposed to horrifying brutality: his only escape has been watching and re-watching the cheerful video tapes of a long-forgotten television programme.

Rescue comes at last, and Eddie embarks on a new life - first with kindly foster carers Linda and Allen, then with new adoptive parents Nick and Natasha and adopted sister Alice. At first he struggles to adapt, but cautiously, he begins to build a life for himself, discovering the joys of books and reading, and even learning to cope with his damaged mother, Lucy, who has now been institutionalised. But Edward's past continues to haunt him - and then one fateful day, he catches sight of a photograph that shocks him to the core - and his new life begins to dramatically unravel.

Edward's story is told through the different accounts of all those involved in his life: the police officers, social workers, therapists, foster carers, teachers and friends he encounters, as well as by Edward himself. Powerful and often distressing, his tale is gracefully told by Anne Fine, who brings directness, understanding and sensitivity to this difficult subject. A book which will stay with readers long after they have finished reading, Blood Family is a compelling, responsible and important novel about trauma, guilt, anger, the nature of family ties and coming to terms with the past.

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