Callie’s family is big and noisy, yet the household runs like clockwork. After school Ted returns with Callie. He loves the family and holds close and secret that Callie considers him ‘a nearly- brother’. However ‘money’s tight’ and Ted’s volunteered to stay home alone after school. It means he watches all the life of Callie’s home from the tree overlooking their house, secretly. Then again, Ted seems to be diminishing, more silent and small than ever. While it was once the four of them- him, Callie, Nico and Zara- somehow, he’s fading away.
Callie wonders if it’s to do with Billy Feldon. Although she finds him curious and amusing, she’s aware of how unkind his jokes toward Ted are. Then there was the orange juice incident…. It led to Ted being the target of so much humiliation that he was crushed and silenced. What’s more, Mr Dunlop shows little understanding of Ted, or anyone in the class for that matter. It’s like he’s a ‘troll’, as Billy might suggest under his breath.
However, Billy has problems too. While his Mum needs a break from her ICU nursing work, Billy’s staying at Dad’s new place, with his girlfriend and the baby with colic. What’s more, there’s K, who obviously hates him. Isn’t it possible that Billy could find another place to stay, somewhere secretive but safe, somewhere he knows well? Nobody would see him, would they? Nor work out where he’s hidden?
Cath Howe writes real life stories. That means we know and recognise her characters and their feelings, fears and situations. It means that her books are eminently engaging and readable and leave you feeling better and wiser. The Insiders is a superb story, such as others by this writer, like How to Be Me, most recently. We recommend The Insiders to our middle grade readers- keenly!