She looked after them. But who would look after her? When fourteen-year-old Sara Jenkins rescues her baby sister, Myfanwy, from the fire which kills their mother, little does she realise the burden of responsibility she is taking on. Her father, Ifor, is perceived as strict and moral by everyone in the village. But as Sara struggles to look after Myfanwy and their home she discovers the depths of cruelty he is capable of. Then Ifor remarries, and Sara's new stepmother is a hard taskmaster who considers everything Sara does inadequate or wicked.
She made a promise, but can she keep it? When Lucy Patterson promises her dying mother that she'll leave the comfortable home they've shared with her mother's employer, Stanley Jones, to go and live with her Aunt Flo on the other side of the Mersey, she has no idea of the terrible consequences. Life with the Flanagans in the slums of Liverpool, and Lucy's new job in a factory, are totally different from the world she has known. Mocked by her cousins and the women she works alongside, and terrified by the brutality of her uncle and the unwelcome attentions of her cousin Frank, Lucy is desperately unhappy.