John Houghton and his wife - middle class, highly educated, well-travelled - learned that they could not have children of their own. Instead they adopted three siblings, two boys and a girl, who were looking for 'a forever family', as the adoption agencies put it. What followed is all too common in adoptive families, but it is rarely talked about in public and has never been described with such transparent honesty as it is in the pages of this remarkable book. From the start, the children were difficult, but the scale of their problems only gradually became clear as the years went by. Strange fears and tantrums were accompanied by much more disturbing kinds of behaviour; the violence and rejection that the children had suffered were visited on their adoptive parents unpredictably and explosively. This is a story of desperate wanting, of anger and frustrated love. It is written with a kind of plain clarity that is both restrained and emotionally powerful. There is no triumphant victory over pain and loss, but there is, in the end, something like hope - a testament to the difference that two decent people can make by sustaining their commitment to an impossible situation.