Step by Wicked Step
A miserable school trip to Harwick Hall is livened up for five students by the discovery of a secret turret room and a young boy's diary. As they read his story of suffering at the hands of his cruel stepfather, their own tales of life with step-parents, step-siblings, half-brothers and sisters seep out.
This positive look at life in extended families is encouraging for those children who have coped with similar upheavals and informative for those who have not.
All five young people have faced the strains of torn loyalty, had to accomodate new partners in their parents' lives and had to work out resolutions to parents childish quarrels.
Anne Fine does not shy away from the fact that separation and divorce are painful, but she does have an uplifting message about the power of honesty and compromise.