London, Doubleday, 2013, 291p
I haven't read Anne Fine for about ten years, and I am incredibly impressed she is still writing with strength and passion.
Eddie is found as a young boy in his dilapidated council flat where he is beaten by his mother's partner. Social services pick him up, and he is taken into care with Linda and Alan, an elderly couple who are great with emergency care. Over time, Eddie becomes increasingly confident and reveals himself to be a studious and caring young man. When he is finally adopted, everything seems to be okay, until his teen years bring about the realisation that the past can never be truly buried.
Blood Family is a dark and tragic novel, but I felt it dragged on a bit too much. The story was told from multiple perspectives - by Eddie, by his social worker, by his foster parents and his adoptive parents, and by his teachers. But the whole thing felt like it took rather a long time to reveal the full extent of the drama.
Eddie is a sweet and kind boy, but he was a little one dimensional, conforming to certain stereotypes that we know about children in care - he is isolated and struggles to socialise; he is eager to work hard and desires love; he goes off the rails in his teens. When the novel starts, he is very young, so although I think the subject is targeted at mature teen readers, I imagine some may be put off by Eddie's youth.
And, as with most novels about social issues, everyone comes up smelling of roses in the end.
Perhaps if this novel had been a little shorter, or if Eddie's character felt more realistic, I might have enjoyed it more, as the concept as a whole was very intriguing.
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