'I am an outside child. That is what Plato Jones calls me.'
Jane Tucker is thirteen years old when she discovers she has a half-brother and sister, a revelation which promises to bring both excitement and succour to her ordinary life.
But obstacles lie in her path when, for unknown reasons, she is prevented from meeting them. Aided by her friend Plato, Jane tracks down her brother and sister to their home in the East End of London. There she finds still more surprises lie in store for her.
Can Jane at last be part of a 'proper' family, or must she always remain the outside child?
This is the story of a girl and her family and the secrets they keep from one another. Both funny and poignant, The Outside Child is a beautifully drawn study of adolescence from one of Britain's most skilled writers for children.
Even though her friend Plato calls them both ``outside children'' (children on the ``outside'' of a family, looking in), 13-year-old Jane has been quite happy living with her two eccentric aunts, and seeing her father when his ship is in port. But one day she notices a picture of a young family in his cabin, and discovers that she has a half-brother and half-sister. Outraged that this secret has been kept from her, she and Plato embark upon a spy mission to locate and meet Jane's mystery family. Their efforts throw the delicate balance of her parent-guardian world into a turmoil; Jane comes to realize that her family's problems are not her fault, and emerges with a renewed sense of self-worth. Imbued with simple yet powerful emotions, Jane's coming-of-age in a broken family is thoroughly believable and cheerfully honest. Her journey of discovery and forgiveness covers some rough ground, but the story's spirited style never flags, and Jane's concerns are handled with empathy, heart and humor. Ages 9-14.