Miracle (who prefers the name Ira) tells her tale from October 1987 until June 1990—when she and younger brother Zac were foster children at Skilly House in London.
In a prologue, a now-adult Ira explains that the story comes from her diaries, then switches to a more childlike voice for the narrative proper. She calls her real name “embarrassing, especially for a care kid,” and throughout, she makes other references to her shame and her embarrassment about her status. After a series of stays with private families in London, she and Zac—at 7, two years her junior—have been driven to the children’s home by social worker Anita. Anita “dyes her hair to match her lipstick.…It takes our mind off things. Maybe that’s why she does it.” Ira’s many descriptions of places and people do not stop with her keen observations; she always editorializes about them. Readers who can tolerate this large amount of exposition will eventually be rewarded, as some of the details—such as Ira’s hasty misreadings of home manager Mrs. Clanks—result in fascinating revelations toward the end. Ira’s frequent use of the construction “me and Zac” jars against her general eloquence but also emphasizes her fierce protection of him. Briticisms are abundant, and the crisis episode, which highlights Zac’s impetuous nature, plays out against the backdrop of poll-tax protests. The siblings are curly-haired; their skin goes undescribed, but they are depicted on the cover with pale skin.
A quiet, endearing protagonist achieves a dream unimagined by many children. (Historical fiction. 8-12)