In Too Deep

Congolese brothers Prince and Emmanuel are in foster care after their rescue from a gang of thieves in London. That harrowing descent into crime, so movingly narrated by Emmanuel in the award winning Too Much Trouble, ended positively with the boys’ placement in two loving homes. Positively but not happily for younger brother Prince, as In Too Deep takes up his story. The eleven-year-old describes his grief at being parted from Emmanuel as well as from his parents who, he believes, are still in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Despite the love and understanding of his new carers, Prince yearns for the reunion of his family. Eavesdropping on his social worker, he hears that a woman has appeared claiming to be the boys’ mother. Can his dream be realised? 

In Too Deep darts effectively between time and place: present day London and Tanzania, and Katanga Province, DRC, four years ago, where the boys lived happily, playing football with their dad and winning races at their village school. The simple, unsentimental writing highlights the contrast between the boys’ early years of carefree security and the streetwise cynicism born of their ordeal in England.

Never self-pitying, Prince makes a lovable, eleven-year-old who, despite his terrible experiences, retains an underlying innocence. Despite a few points where the plot felt more forced than flowing (the forging of passports and the boys’ separation at the airport), this is a gripping, moving story that will open young readers’ eyes to the struggles of many immigrants without a hint of moralising.