This is a rags-to-riches story set in England and the United States in the mid to late '70s. The story involves Jack, between the ages of nine and thirteen, going from a runaway wicked boy to a polite well-behaved boy. His background is extremely deprived. He never changes his clothes, his parents show him no love or affection, and the authorities do nothing but lock him up. The story is peppered with nasty authority figures-his two neighbours, his uncles, his parents, truant officers, court officials, police, teachers, council officers and nightwatchmen, all of whom he must struggle with to claim liberty. But his spirit endures after several escapes from institutions, and he keeps the courage to fight his enemies and even occasionally help them. After choosing to go overseas, he befriends two immigrants, the Duncans, who eventually allow him to stay with him in the United States where he experiences love, wealth, and reconciliation with some enemies-and his behaviour is good after being shown love. There are still undesirables-tramps, punk rockers, investigators from the United Kingdom-to be overcome, as well as a family bereavement, but on the whole Jack's life is heaven.
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