As the Second World War comes to an end, an eleven-year-old London boy finds himself alone in the world. Alan Carey lost his parents in an air raid, and is taken into Barton House, a gaunt Victorian children's home where the staff range from hostile to vicious. Soon Alan falls prey to systematic sexual abuse from the sadistic Jacko, with ensuing confusion and shame. The teenage brother of a schoolfriend offers him love and affection, but the adult world soon comes between them, and even conspires to cast Alan as the guilty seducer. In just twelve months, a bright and sociable boy learns that no grown-up can be trusted, and settles instead for a fierce and reclusive independence.
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