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Pretty and bright, Cleopatra Kelly dreams of life without the shadow of fear cast by her abusive step-father Horace Womack. Her beloved brother, Ant, flees to London, and a few weeks later, Cleo makes a daring escape and follows him there. However, Cleo is only thirteen, and is soon found by the police and sent to a reform school for girls. And whilst the school offers her a sanctuary from her step-father, life there is far from easy. Undaunted, Cleo escapes again, and, although she is wary of adults, she tried to put her painful childhood memories behind her and move on with her life.
She gets a job at the seaside with her good friend Flo, and even starts to feel like a normal teenager and have some fun. Her brother's building business is also doing well and it seems as if their fortunes have really changed for the better. But Horace Womack is not done with the Kelly family yet . . .