My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 1.5 days (I missed a day of reading)
Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton
Pages - 360 (uncorrected proof copy)
Blurb from Goodreads
Chantelle has everything going against her. She's a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she's single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone, a knife - and some drugs to hide in her flat.
A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle's prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her - with a vengeance. And the only person who's offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she's trying to escape from . . .
Chantelle is fifteen and holding everything together, raising her nine year old little brother, Leon, whilst her mum gets wasted and parties. It is not uncommon for her to disappear for a few days and leave Chantelle holding the fort. However this time Mary, Chantelle's mum, goes off with her newest man and leaves Chantelle with nothing. All she wants to do is go to school and get on with her upcoming exams and stay out of all the trouble that comes from living in an estate. Leon quickly gets into trouble with a gang, Chantelle needs to find money so they can eat and try and track down her mum, before Marys debts fall on Chantelle and estate life takes over.
When you pick up a new copy of one of your favourite authors book, it is always with excitement, joy and apprehension. The last books have been fabulous and you worry that something will be lacking from this new one. Thankfully this was an unfounded fear, the book was fabulous.
Chantelle is a likable character, she is so young yet wise beyond her years. She has a strong family ethic and does what she has to to look out for her brother by taking a job as well as trying to keep up with studies. This leads her a new kind of trouble that puts her and Leon in grave danger. Only one person can help her, Anton, a local Lothario who has been giving her the eye since he got out of jail. Involving him is her only hope but is she trading one evil for another?
This story, I have to say, is quite different from the previous books. Yes there is violence, sex and all the usual we have come to expect and love from Heller however this one has very strong focus on family and loyalty which I really loved. Her mother is one of the most despicable characters and Chantelle's only role model however she still cares about her. As much as she wants to better herself and do well at school she doesn't look down on anyone and her brother comes first, at all costs despite him being a wee horror for a lot of the book.
I really enjoyed this, 5/5 for me this time and you only have to wait until the end of the month before you can get your hands on a copy. Available from the 31st f January 2014, for all good retailers. I received an advanced copy from Emilie Ferguson from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.