Out of Breath, By Julie Myerson

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The Independent Culture

Julie Myerson has always been good at capturing the pangs of adolescence – even her adults haven't quite moved on from their teens – and here she treats us to a no-holds barred rites of passage fantasy.

Flynn, 13, is going through a tough time at home: her dad is absent, her mother has a young baby, and her 15-year-old brother, Sam, is going off the rails.

One day she sees Alex standing at the bottom of the garden – a beautiful boy in ragged clothes, someone she surmises is without a mum or even a washing machine.

She's right, the boy has neither, and is sharing a runaway life with a troubled six-year-old, Mouse, and a teenager who has just given birth. The alternative family is irresistible.

Combining domestic realism with a wash of moonshine, Myserson's story of feral children works its own kind of magic. Happy endings – though seductively dangled – probably aren't in store.

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