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Early 1960s – Newcastle, UK
When eleven-year-old Meggie’s feckless Dad doesn’t pay the coal man she takes matters into her own hands. With her younger brother, Jack, she sets off to find the free coal she knows can be found in the pit heaps opposite their village. When she and Jack return home from their adventure, she’s punished. Does she still love her dad? She’s not so sure and when she has to make a choice between going to live with her grandparents at their newsagent’s shop in Newcastle so she can go to the grammar school or staying in Shippon and going to the local secondary school she decides to leave home.
She soon finds herself in an ever bigger mess. Billy Fish and The Codmother are ripping off Meggie’s grandparents. With her new friend, paperboy Dave Spedding, she tries to help, but finds herself trapped in a dangerous situation.
Growing pains, a new school, dealing with Billy Fish’s threats against her grandparents and coping with long-hidden family secrets stretch Meggie’s resourcefulness and strength of character to the limit.