Looked After – a novel


Welford Avenue is home to 15 year old tearaway Jacko, elderly widowed Shirley and her pregnant neighbour Julia who teaches at the school Jacko attends.
Julia goes into early labour and Shirley steps in to help. The following day Julia gives birth, a traumatic experience. On the same afternoon Jacko visits the suburbs where his sisters are being fostered. Desperately jealous of his siblings’ stable upbringing, he behaves badly
A month later sees Julia depressed and her marriage increasingly troubled. She and Shirley become friends, Shirley increasingly taking over care of the baby girl. Shirley and Jacko’s paths cross and despite Julia’s warnings, Shirley feels compassion for the small scruffy lad and asks him to help her with odd jobs. He agrees and an unlikely friendship starts to develop. Julia returns to her teaching job earlier than planned. Jacko has enjoyed English with Julia’s replacement and kicks off when he finds Julia is back. In the ensuing contretemps, Julia acts cruelly but Jacko is punished. Hating Julia, he stalks her and later lodges a complaint against her for assault.
Things unravel at Christmas when the severe snow brings life to a standstill. Suspecting her husband of being unfaithful, Julia seeks Shirley’s help. Having just learnt of her daughter-in-law’s breast cancer, Shirley rebuffs her. Julia comes near to harming Lucy but at the last moment Shirley stops her. Shirley confesses that she had another son who died in infancy, whether from a cot death or from being smothered is left open.
Meanwhile, Jacko is getting drunk. We learn why he is a ‘looked after’ child: he was subjected to a vicious assault by his mother when she found him cross-dressing. Resolving to get his own back on the world Jacko remains locked in an outhouse in Julia’s garden, his future uncertain.
Click here to read the first two chapters of ‘Looked After’.