Critically injured in a mysterious air crash, D. considers the question which has haunted his young life: ’what am I doing here?’ What he recalls is a disturbing story of a child’s struggle for survival set against the backdrop of the deprivations of the Second World War, and the bombing of his hometown, Swansea. Wherever he turned, D, always seemed to be an unwanted outsider: the ’middle-child’, the only boy in a family dominated by women; a Catholic at odds with the mostly Protestant boys around him; a Grammar school boy from the wrong side of town; a lonely war-time evacuee. D. suffers at the hands of his indifferent teachers, a vindictive sister, and his dangerously unpredictable mother. Even in his first, unhappy, job he is mercilessly teased by the women in his office. Joining the RAF seems to offer independance and escape, but then comes the crash....
In Second Chances, Denis F. Ratcliffe writes a gripping and authentic account of the pain of an unhappy childhood, and life in an industrial housing estate in Swansea during and after the war. Psychologically fascinating, with its skillful working of the detail of conditions, it is a notable addition to the literature of childhood.
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