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Cheap White Meat is the intriguing and very topical story about a police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against young girls who live in care. 15 year-old Jennifer lives in a specialist care home for teenagers with mental health issues and at the start of the novel she refuses to communicate with anyone in authority. However, when she is introduced to Jack, a new carer, she slowly opens up to reveal the abuse that she’s been subjected to and agrees to tell her story in order to help create awareness about the situation which has been happening to numerous girls undetected for years.
Even though Jennifer opens up and starts co-operating with the police, she soon finds out that perhaps the police and social workers are trying to cover up the fact that Jennifer, and other girls, have been abused by a particular type of men in the interests of political correctness. This becomes more apparent when it is revealed that Jack is close friends with another girl, Lucy, who was abused by the same gang and has links to a notorious far-right protest group. Lucy first reported her allegations two years earlier, but her case was dropped. The official reason given by the police was that they felt a jury wouldn’t have seen Lucy as a credible witness, however, Jack, and others, feel that the case was dropped as part of a cover-up because the police didn’t want to risk breaking political correctness and exposing the activities of a particular community.
Despite the obstacles in place, Jennifer insists that she wants to tell her story to create awareness about what a group of men have been allowed to get away with and to make sure that justice is brought against the men who abused her. When Jennifer is introduced to a new Key Worker, Sandra, she finally starts to turn her mental state around. Jennifer’s condition improves so much that she resumes contact with her mum shortly after her 16th birthday.
Jennifer’s mum is the reason why she’s had to live care for the past seven years as she has been serving a prison sentence for the manslaughter of her ex-partner’s, a policeman, daughter. Without any other family available to care for her, Jennifer has found herself passed between various foster carers and children’s home, slowly getting lost in the system.
Even though she should have been under 24 hour supervision, Jennifer was still able to leave her home for up to 12 hours at a time without her Key Worker knowing where she was and who she was spending her time with. It was during this time that Jennifer met Adam, a man who worked as a delivery driver for a takeaway that she spent a lot of her time at. Adam befriended Jennifer and over time their relationship became sexual. Once he had managed to gain her trust, Adam introduced Jennifer to some of his friends who she also had a sexual relationship with, this time for money.
Like many victims of rape, initially Jennifer thinks that she is to blame for being abused. It is only when other people help her understand what has been going on that she changes her stance towards Adam and sees what he’s done to her. It is because of this understanding that Jennifer is able to rebuild her relationship with her mum who has just been released from prison. Therefore, as the trial starts, Jennifer is on the verge of enrolling in a college and moving in with her mum.