In this unforgettable debut novel about the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of childhood, two girls are set on an unimaginable path. Spoiled but emotionally neglected Gemma, who seems to have everything, and semi-feral Pauline, who has less than nothing, are two very different ten-year-old girls growing up in a tough Yorkshire town in the 1970s.
Pauline longs for the simple luxuries of Gemma’s life: her neatly folded socks and her clean hair. Gemma, upset by her parents’ breakup, loses herself in fantasies of meeting the child television star Lallie Paluza. When Lallie shoots a movie in their hometown, Gemma and Pauline grab the chance for their wildest dreams to come true. But the film becomes a catalyst for the forces of the dysfunctional adult world and its impact on both girls as playground bullying escalates with terrible consequences.