After a happy childhood, novelist Julie Myerson's son discovered drugs. It only took a few months for him to lose his way and propel his family into daily chaos. Myerson and her husband locked their eldest son out of the family home when he was just 17.

In The Lost Child, Myerson weaves the story of two people—her son and artist Mary Yelloly—whose childhoods were cut short. Both are stories of loss, yet both are stories of unrealized potential.

The day my son hits me, I'm all dressed up to go out. High heels and lipstick and perfume.

A director friend has a first night in the West End and it's a hot May evening, hot and light, and I've really been looking forward to this. We go out so rarely at the moment and I'm all ready to leave and I don't want to be late. So I'm watching the clock when I see him dragging his amp through the hall to take out on to the lawn.

Where are you going with that?

Outside. We're gonna practise, when you've gone.

Not outside, you can't.

Why not?

Come on, darling, not with an amp. It will be far too loud.

Oh for f***'s sake. He tries to push past me, but I get there first and lock the door and put the key on the shelf.

It's not fair on other people, I tell him. That amp really is louder than you think. Practise outside without an amp by all means if you want to.

Without an amp? he almost shouts. You really don't have any f***ing idea, do you?

His father comes in, car keys in hand.

What's going on?

She won't let me take the amp outside, for Christ's sake!

Please tell him it's not fair on the neighbours.

It's not fair on the neighbours, says his father. End of story.

F***'s sake!

Oh come on, you know you can't make such a noise, not at this time of night.

It's not night. It's early f***ing evening.

Still too late. Look, darling, there's the church out there and then all the flats. It's just not neighbourly to inflict that on people.

But I'm not f***ing inflicting—!

You are. You are if they have no choice.

I look at my watch.

Come on, I say, we've said no, and now we really have to go.

The key of the door is on the shelf where I put it. Our son walks over and grabs it.

Put that back right now, I tell him. He holds it high above his head. He is over six foot tall.

How're you going to stop me? I stare at him. I'm so tired of this.

You absolutely cannot practise outside tonight. We are forbidding you.

How exactly are you going to stop me, Mother dear?
Excerpted from The Lost Child by Julie Myerson. Copyright ?? 2009 by Julie Myerson. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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