Sometimes it's easy to fall between the cracks... At 3.04 p.m. on a hot, sticky day in June, Bess finds out she's pregnant.
She could tell her social worker Henry, but he's useless. She should tell her foster mother, Lisa, but she won't understand. She really ought to tell Boy, but she hasn't spoken to him in weeks. Bess knows more than anyone that love doesn't come without conditions. But this isn't a love story...
Careless is about a teenage girl, Bess, who lives in Shepperton with her foster parents and their biological daughter. In the opening pages, Bess finds out she is pregnant in a kebab-shop toilet and the novel follows her journey in deciding whether she should have the baby or have an abortion. It also charts her ongoing relationships with her foster family, the boy who got her pregnant (Boy) and her best friend (Eshal). The word “powerful” is overused in literary journalism, but it absolutely applies to Careless, which Benjamin Zephaniah described as “the literary equivalent of gold dust”.
The long and short of it is this: it’s the kind of day where the heat sticks plimsolls to tarmac and I’m standing in the toilet in the Golden Grill kebab shop with a pregnancy test stuffed into my backpack.
I’m waiting for my best friend Eshal. The toilet is not a cubicle but a single room with dirty magnolia tiles that need regrouting and oily lipstick smears on the mirror. The metallic smell of periods is clogging the air and my forehead is damp with sweat. My face watches me from the mirror, distorted by the cherry-coloured imprints of puckered lips, my skin the colour of tiles, too much eyeliner smudged around my eyes and a thin sheen of moisture coating my upper lip.
The first thing I ever learned about my biological mother is that she was very into astrology. The zodiac. I have a pattern of freckles on my lower back, which, if you look at in a certain way, resembles the Big Dipper, and I wonder whether she has the same constellation on her own body.