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Growing up in a sleepy town with a beautiful mother and a father who seems to adore her, it’s difficult to understand why Frances is the way she is. Strange, manipulating, and at times cruel, she is a mystery to Marienne, her bewildered mother. But, on closer inspection, hiding beyond the white picket fence and cherry-blossom tree that umbrellas their cozy life, something dark lies heavy on both Frances and her father. Following a disastrous 16th birthday party and a grandmother found dead in the bathtub, Frances is sent away to boarding school. The Academy is a place rife with teenage rivalry, secret rendezvous, and budding friendships. And it’s here alone for the first time that Frances is forced to confront the true nature of her life. Intertwined with Frances’ narrative is that of her father James. Between them we discover a story of a young girl entering adulthood under the smoky weight of a terrible secret, of a life stolen and rediscovered, and, above all, of a tainted love affair and the fluid, easily traversed boundary between perversity and normality.
Iman Verjee won the 2012 Peters Fraser & Dunlop/City University Prize for Fiction for her In Between Dreams, which she wrote while completing an MA in Creative Writing at City University, London. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya.