Trying to sum up today’s reading is not easy. The main development seems to be the way that the family pull together only to then split apart under the dual influences of Julies boyfriend and Tom’s odd way of grieving.
In the first instance Derek, a snooker player with a flash car, turns up and adds more flesh to the life that the newly smoking Julie is leading beyond the house. Jack doesn’t like him but Sue is okay about the entry of a stranger into their odd world.
The youngest child Tom however starts to dress as a girl. Something he had joked about when his mother was alive no becomes awkwardly real. Then he seems to move on from that phase, partly because he is hit out of it, and starts to regress to become a baby.
It is clear to see that the children are each crippled in their own way by grief and the weight of being orphans and McEwan manages to inform you of their pain without the characters themselves being able to do a great deal about it.