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The Story of X
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The Story of X is a brutal and uncompromising, first person account of twelve months in the life of a fifteen year old boy.

Jack (he never reveals his real name) runs away from home the day after his birthday to escape the attentions of his mother’s paedophile boyfriend. His departure is well planned because he has read the novels of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan as well as books about the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa during the Second World war.

Once in London, he moves into a squat and goes on the streets, ‘mooching’ (begging) for his living.

He is recruited with some other teenagers by an armed vigilante group called The Millers. The Millers are funded by a wealthy recluse whose grand-daughter has died as a result of drug addiction. They are determined to put a stop to dealers who target young kids and, as Jack’s sister has taken her own life as a result of addiction, he is immediately attracted to the group and its aims. The Millers are mainly former special forces soldiers who train Jack and the other recruits in covert operations including unarmed combat, how to avoid and deal with antagonistic surveillance and tailing operations, and how to infiltrate the drug gangs and collect intelligence.

Jack is paired with a young Chinese girl, code-named Lizzie, and they infiltrate a drugs ring, pretending to deal in cocaine but, in fact, on the insistence of The Millers, destroying all they receive and paying the gang with money received from The Millers. Inevitably, at their age and in their circumstances, they start sleeping together but, although Jack makes the sexual relationship explicit, the references are not graphic and we don’t normally follow them into the bedroom.

Their infiltration of the gang goes wrong when another gang attacks with the objective of taking over the operation. Several people are killed and Jack and his girlfriend are taken prisoner. One of the attacking gang, on the pretext of searching Lizzie, indecently assaults her. Jack loses his cool, head butts Lizzie’s attacker and, in the ensuing mêlée, despite their being bound hand and foot, they kill him. Nevertheless, they are recruited into the gang and appear to be selling cannabis to young children but, as before, they destroy the drug and provide information to The Millers.

They gradually become assimilated into the gang but The Millers aren’t all they had seemed to be. They are intent on killing the gangsters, not merely making the information available to the police. Jack and Lizzie are appalled but feel there isn’t much they can do because they have themselves now become compromised and have killed the gangster who was assaulting Lizzie. The Millers effectively blackmail them into continued support but promise they will not be involved in the actual attack on the gangsters’ hideout.

But another of the teenagers, not herself so compromised, says she cannot accept The Millers’ intentions. She says she will report the matter to the authorities but, she says, she will give Jack and Lizzie time to get away. The Millers get to hear of her intentions which prompts them to bring forward the attack – to a date when, unknown to them, Lizzie and Jack are present at the gangsters’ hideout.

They survive the initial attack but, in the aftermath, Lizzie is fatally wounded by one of The Millers – in fact the one who had first recruited them. Jack is devastated and his self-told story disintegrates as he is convicted of crimes he can scarcely remember and is incarcerated in a young offenders’ institution.

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