Now and then a book comes along that can never be forgotten, a book whose characters touch you deeply and remain in your memory. A story that shocks you into thinking about something you had never considered or completely changing your previous perceptions.The Care Vortex by Sam Smith is such a book…. The Care Vortex is fast paced, interesting and believable. The characters are all too human, people like you and I. Ordinary people trying to deal with unimaginable events.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, without reservation. It is not an easy book to read, because of the subject and the issues raised in it. When Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist he was criticised for using criminals and prostitutes, in writing about subjects that were considered taboo. Yet Oliver Twist is now regarded as a classic, not only an excellent story, but a book that changed attitudes and made people wake up and take notice. Perhaps one day the same thing will be said of The Care Vortex.
If you want to read a book that will lull you to sleep at night, this book is not for you. It is no Little Orphan Annie with pretty pig-tailed children and fairy tale endings. Those trapped in the Care Vortex are damaged, the details harrowing. But for all that, it is a story of heroism, of people reaching out to each other and trying to overcome what has been done.

Gillian Davis. Reviewed on the Sam Smith & The Journal website.

Care Vortex is a no-holds-barred account of one day and night in a care home for disturbed young girls. At times, it reads more like non-fiction than fiction and therein lies the roots of its success. To be effective … really effective … the story needed to be told in this way. But … and here’s the crunch … this is not the way of the average run-of-the-mill writer. Only a skilled and competent storyteller, someone with the confidence to step outside the tried-and-tested rules of novel-writing, could carry off this sort of novel. It is to Sam Smith’s credit that he has done so with such aplomb.

You cannot help but be drawn into the lives of the characters. They are painted as real people, the sort you would never find at a vicarage tea party in St Mary Mead. The girls – each with her own deeply disturbing case notes – come out from the page so strongly you will want to hug them, shake them by the neck, thrash them … depending on how their behaviour and mood changes hit you. The staff, especially Barry Gresham, are so powerfully drawn you will feel their thoughts and emotions as if they were your own. At times you will wonder at their techniques for maintaining their own sanity and you will feel for them.
There is nothing Mills-and-Boon or Maeve Binchy about the way this story is written: nothing romantic, no peaches and cream for tea. This is the real world and it grabs you by the throat and forces you to bite on the harsh reality of life for these maladjusted girls. To finish reading this book is to come out wiser and more understanding about the problems of damaged young people; the sort of problems so many of us are protected against.

David Hough, 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed on

The Care Vortex is a vitally important book. It should be read by anyone who has responsibility for children and young adults, whether they be parents, teachers, care workers, police, administrators … it’s all too easy in environments of near-isolation – family homes, care institutions, schools – to sweep the truth (and the children) under the carpet.

Neil Marr, author of Bullycide: Death at Playtime. Reviewed on the Sam Smith & The Journal website.

The Care Vortex follows a group of teenage-girls in a penny-pinching, privately-owned care home. Care workers and inmates (for that is how they feel) deal with child prostitution, drug addiction, self-mutilation, incest, violence and crime. All this within a home run by ineptitude, indifference and greed. An irresistible, disturbing reality check.

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