Bad Little Girl – Frances Vick
An absolute corker of a psychological thriller, with a deprived and abused little girl at the heart of it – prepare to be moved – prepare to be terrified.
Take an inner city school. Meet Claire, a harassed, very compassionate and caring, middle aged teacher who sometimes feels like a bit of dinosaur as she juggles the responsibilities of her dull private life, her irascible Mother, her non-existent social life, with her beloved career.
Her path meets that of neglected 5 year old Lorna from a feckless family with a bad reputation on a run-down housing estate and both their lives are about to be affected by the meeting. Warning bells ring when Claire uncovers a heinous crime – Lorna, with the stick like limbs, the dirty clothes and the badly worn shoes, in a bid to be accepted by her peers, has stolen some collectable kids erasers and thus Rubbergate is unleashed! Far from bringing her friendship and admiration it makes her despised and scorned.
It seems such a small event to trigger so many repercussions, but what it does is bring Lorna to Claires attention and Claire isn’t about to let a child in need of care and protection down so decides she will keep an eye on this little girl, whose family don’t seem to care about her, who appears with bruises all too often. It’s clear she needs protection and Claire would never forgive herself if she did nothing, as memories of an earlier abused child who wasn’t helped, haunt her.
But her pleas to the ineffective head and young flighty teachers, fall on deaf ears, they feel she is overreacting.
Years pass, Lorna continues to decline and Claires attempts to intervene on Lornas behalf fail. Poor Claire, she’s a successful teacher but makes some poor decisions and fails to find support for her actions when she needs it. Her suspicions about what has been happening to Lorna at home escalate and although reluctant to explain fully, it seems she is being badly abused.
Cliare feels a deep affinity with this bright yet neglected youngster and steps in to try and provide some stability and encouragement to this young and promising child.
Events are finally brought to a head when Lorna turns up on Claires doorstep, shaken and distressed apparently having been subjected to a violent outburst by her step father. Pressurised to make a quick decision Claire makes a rash and inadvisable move and from this day forth, nothing will ever be the same again ….. and that, dear reader is just the beginning!
We are taken on a journey of deceit and manipulation which will twist your mind.
One minute I was thinking poor Lorna, she so needs Claires help and though it’s obvious she has huge problems which have impacted on her, making her behaviour erratic, she can be so loving no wonder Claire is prepared to take huge risks for her. Then things she does and says begin to niggle t me, she is very mercurial and I think maybe she exaggerates to get things to go her own way, maybe she tells lies to turn things in her favour? Maybe she really is a bad little girl after all.
At times I felt very supportive of Claire, she seems so well meaning, but I began to wonder does she have an ulterior motive, is she reliable, what motivates her, for her knee jerk reactions can be so drastic?
Then a third person appears on the scene, Marianne, loner, misfit, usurper, dragging her dog Benji along. She is an undoubted fly in the domestic ointment, she is about to upset the apple cart.
Oh this is one twisted tale, a real nail biter and an OMG I don’t believe that just happened, curved ball thrown in now and again. You do need to bite your metaphorical tongue and go with the flow as some of the events seem very unlikely, but the most horrifying things in life and fiction are far fetched. If everyone was sensible and reliable and did what you’d expect to be done, there would be no thrillers!
And thriller this certainly is.
I give it a big thumbs up for boldness and shock factor and to know any more about it you’ll just have to read it.
My lips are sealed.
This is another fabulous read from Bookouture, I received my copy through Netgalley.