The attack on fifteen-year-old Joe Kennedy was particularly squalid and vicious. Sheila Armstrong's grandson Leo, usually a quiet, well-behaved boy, was found holding a knife. Harriet Kennedy cannot cope with her son's continuing pain; Sheila, who reared Leo, cannot bear the lasting guilt. In a powerful and moving tale of suffering and forgiveness, the two women confront the complex range of emotions that motherhood entails.
Margaret Forster has the gift of making you care deeply about what happens to her characters
This is Forster writing at her very best
How does it feel to be the mother of a juvenile thug? Or the mother of that thug's hapless victim? It is the pain of such mothers that Margaret Forster explores most brilliantly in her dark, harrowing and extremely topical novel
Forster is remarkably honest, skilful and perceptive
Margaret Forster has a remarkable gift for taking huge social issues and welding them into minutely observed human dramas that are perfect portraits of the way we live now...The story grips and the heart bleeds for these good mothers who are, like all mothers, never good enough