Rosoff uses this not unconventional scene to discuss narcissistic personalities, sibling hierarchies and the ability for a short love affair to change the direction of a life and stay lodged in the heart for ever. The novel’s epigraph, William Blake’s line, “And we are put on earth a little space, that we may learn to bear the beams of love”, sums up Rosoff’s mission. Unlike so many YA novels, which make love look like a walk in the skate park, Rosoff tells it like it is: disruptive, painful, indelible and requiring a tough hide. I can think of no better writer to break the news.
A coming-of-age story for the unnamed narrator, the eldest of four skilfully characterised siblings, it is also an original take on teenage passion and an antidote to the clichés of young adult love stories. When a charismatic boy joins the party, two of the siblings fall for him. But this is not a romance: it is about manipulation, narcissism and how dangerous infatuation can be. Its warning rings true.