My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 5 days
Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton
Blurb from Goodreads
It begins on a winter afternoon, when schoolgirl Nicky Day runs from a gang of bullies. Then her little brother starts the fire. But the nightmare that is engulfing Sue and Terry Day is only beginning ...A single mother who left a six-year-old on his own while she went clubbing on a Friday night. An absent father with a hot teenaged girlfriend who didn't seem to care who was minding his former family. The police, the neighbours, the friends, the lovers turn accusing eyes on them both. Suspicious voices ask whether Nicky has run away; whether the fire is really an accident. And meanwhile, time is running out for Nicky.
I love when I your having a readers block and you need something to get you over it, Mandasue Heller does that for me (so far every time). The book kick starts with 15 year old Nicky running from bullies and then the first hit. We flip to her mum and friend wanting to get out for the night and her 6 year old younger brother being left alone. Her mum Sue knows Nicky is reliable and will be home soon and gives in to her friend for a night on the town. A fire starts, Nicky is missing, her brother in a hospital bed, her mother is MIA and her father is at the hospital looking for answers and his estranged wife.
There is drama in this story from the get go, you quickly get the insight of poor Nicky's life. Looking after her brother whilst mum copes with dads desertion for a younger girl, gossip around the scheme, everyone fighting, bullies, there is always something on the go. After the fire, Sue has a lot of explaining to do, Connor (the little brother) is petrified the truth with come out about the fire and is worried about his sister. Sue has her hands full with no home, Connor's after effects from the fire and a known face taking interest in her and the possible repercussions from that.
Nicky is at the start of the story and then always in the background as in where is she, what happened but you don't find out til later what the score is with that which I found a tad annoying as I like to know what is happening. There is a lot happening throughout, family arguments, lies, secrets and betrayal. The chapters are fairly short which results in just one more before bed, next thing you know it is 1am as you can't put it down. Council estate crime and drama, you really can't beat it, 4/5 for me.