The rag bag family ISBN: 00099266210
- The Bodley Head, 1992
- Red Fox, 1994 (ISBN: 00099266210)
Thirteen year old Rita is thrust into the bosom of a foster family when her gran has a stroke. She and gran have lived isolated, self-sufficient lives, and the big, noisy Brown family, all of whom are fostered or adopted, and their shaggy dog, Gnasher, are not what she needs. Everyone tries to be welcoming and are truly glad to have her except for Jody, the Brown's' adopted daughter, with whom Rita must share a room. Jody is beautiful and unfriendly, lowering Rita's self- esteem further. Gran has always been a prickly sort with very decided views, one of which is that one must keep oneself to oneself. Rita's social worker and the adult Browns encourage Rita to talk, which is the last thing she wants. Rita's real mother, who abandoned her as a baby, turns up for a brief visit, and Rita is stunned to learn that gran and her mother have kept in touch over the years. She feels abandoned all over again. In desperation she cuts off all her hair, and confesses to Mrs. Brown that she has been shoplifting. In coming to terms with the 'rag bag family' who care deeply about her, she grows up, and they provide the firm base she so badly needs. Gran begins to recover, and it looks as though they will be able to return to their flat with support. Rita is a loveable child, and her problems are clearly delineated from within herself. A strong, believable story.