Little Lorna Bell is from a notorious family on a rundown estate. Everyone thinks she’s a nasty piece of work. The schoolchildren call her a thief. But Lorna’s hair is matted, her shoes pinch her feet and her school teacher Claire Penny can’t help herself; some kids just need a bit more support, a bit more love, than the rest. As the bond between teacher and pupil grows stronger, Claire sees Lorna’s bruises, and digs to uncover the disturbing tale behind them.
This is a very dark and deep psychological thriller, with a constant current of underlying tension that makes for some compelling reading. One that offers plenty of food for thought and the nature versus nurture debate will make for an interesting discussion topic. It’s a tale of manipulation and it’s absolutely gripping.
The story starts off a little slow with details about Claire’s home life but I felt it gave a true insight into the kind of person she is which made me understand her actions just that little bit more. Claire is somewhat naive but really cares about the children at her school and she’s well liked by pupils. So it’s really no surprise when Lorna gravitates towards her.
What threw me the most, was the introduction of Marianne, who after a chance encounter invades Claire’s life and home. I kept thinking there was more to her story but was left somewhat unfulfilled.
The later chapters of the book were quite rushed. Quite a shame as the build-up promises so much more. And after having given it some thought, I’m not sure I’m entirely satisfied with the ending.
Still, an unputdownable read and despite my doubts about some things, I did enjoy it.