His most substantial book to date, this compelling story of a teenager caught in a corrupt 1980s Care Home is a powerful study of a particularly highly-charged and distressing subject. Handled with great sensitivity and engrossing narrative drive, it is an important addition to the understanding of how childcare can go so wrong.
When Nick's mother dies suddenly and unexpectedly, the 14 year old is sent straight into a boys' home, where he finds institutional intimidation and violence keep order. After countless fights and punishments, Nick thinks life can't get any worse - but the professionally respected deputy head, Mr Creal, who has been grooming him with sweets and solace, has something much more sinister in mind. Nick has no choice but to escape. Living on the run, he falls in with a modern Fagin, a cheerful Rasta who fences stolen credit cards and car stereos. The scarring, shaming experience he suffered at the hands of Mr Creal can never quite be suppressed, and when the old hatred
surfaces, bloody murder and revenge lead to an unforgettable climax.
Melvin Burgess was born in London and brought up in Surrey and Sussex. He has had a variety of jobs before becoming a full-time writer. Before his first novel, he had short stories published and a play broadcast on Radio 4. He is now regarded as one of the best writers in contemporary children's literature.
"An exceptional novel, a tour-de-force from an outstanding writer."
Jake Hope, Lancashire Libraries
"No stranger to controversy, Melvin Burgess' latest novel is as hard-hitting as ever. It is a gutsy, powerful story... This is Burgess' homage to Dickens as he updates the themes and issues of Oliver Twist. Like Dickens, this is also a moral tale - there is a good dose of retribution and the central character comes through against the odds."
The Bookseller - Sue Steel
"The contrast of Nicholas as powerless child and his adult self able to obtain some measure of retribution is powerfully done."
Sue Baker - The Bookseller
"It's hard hitting, typically controversial."
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
"If there was ever going to be someone brave enough to turn abuse in children's homes into a novel for teenagers, it was Melvin Burgess... Burgess remains unapologetic and it's with good cause."