Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive
In Brief: Affectionate understanding in a realistic family setting. Ill-feeling owing to separated parents taking new partners.
Series: Casson Family
Published in: 2003
Age Range: Pre Teens+
- Indigo the only boy among the four Casson siblings, about whom he worries even when he has problems of his own, such as being picked on at school.
- Tom Levin is an American boy visiting his English grandmother to help clear the air between him and his father's new daughter by the woman he lives with.
- Rose, Indigo's 8-year-old sister, is very taken by Tom and does everything she can to help him and Indigo.
Indigo, returning to school after glandular fever, keeps his worries about being bullied from the rest of his family, except that Rose finds out and spills the beans, leading Saffy and her friend Sarah to barge right in and subdue the gang leader. However, this simply turns the gang's attention to Tom the self-possessed American. Brought together in mutual defence, the two become friends and Tom finds himself drawn to Indigo's cheerfully chaotic family, and in particular to his little sister Rose.
Once again, the Casson family mixes familiar chaos and affectionate understanding. This time the focus is Indigo, who stumbles into a friendship with Tom the American showoff. Tom, in spite of his apparent arrogance, is deeply upset about the fact that father, separated from his mother for more than 10 years, is living with another woman with whom he's had a baby daughter. The relationship was so strained that Tom has come to stay with his English grandmother to cool things off. Meanwhile, at chez Casson, the older children are finally coming to realise that their father has effectively left them behind and moved into a new life and with a new girlfriend; at the same time, it looks as though one of Caddy's older boyfriends, the practical-minded Derek, might actually be attracted to their mother.
All this happens, as usual, in the context of the extended Casson family's cheerful acceptance of each other and of life at home, at school and elsewhere. Saffy and Sarah are typical young teenage girls, so absorbed in designer sunglasses that they don't realise Rose has gone outside to meet Tom. Rose herself is upset about her father's continued absence and is determined to help Tom with his problems. Indigo finds himself unexpectedly sticking up for Tom both in the face of the Gang and before the headmaster. Tom, meanwhile, finds in the Casson family home the only place he's ever wanted to be, and their Casson's matter-of-fact love for each other bursts the bubble of pride he has built between himself and his desperately ill baby half-sister Frances.
Since the family situations on both sides of the Atlantic are causing obvious distress to various family members, it can't be said that the story condones the de facto or de iure separation of parents (or their relationships with other partners). However, the older Cassons do accept their parents situation fairly matter-of-factly.
So Tom, at his own request, had come to England, that being as far as could be managed to a million miles away. There he was no happier than he was in America, and considerably less comfortable. Also at his grandmother's house he was quite spectacularly not the centre of attention, although he managed to make up for that at school. And he was terribly lonely. He didn't like England, and he didn't like home. Until the Saturday afternoon when he visited the Casson house for the first time, there was no place in the world that he wanted to be.
Tuesday 1st January 2002