Teenagers have pretty acute 'patronising detectors' so if you are going to write a gritty story about troubled youngsters you need to really know the territory.
As he showed with his brilliant debut novel Being Billy, Phil Earle is capable of portraying the teenage world with such sensitivity and power that he should be a must-read author for today's young adults.
Hull-born Earle, who will appearing at the Telegraph Hay Festival, is not afraid to take on tricky and edgy subjects (self-harming in Saving Daisy). The novel opens with a statement of intent that is as tough as a Roy Keane tackle when Daisy bluntly states the scale of her isolation and depth of her misplaced guilt.
She has lost both parents and needlessly blames herself for their deaths. Daisy is a strong character (she appears in Being Billy) - wilful yet vulnerable and distressed. "The paranoia bubbled and spewed to every corner of my brain," she says, after being sent to a child institution called Bellfield. She has to face her own mental demons and deal with the volatile inmates. Of Naomi, a particularly lairy girl, Earle writes: "Even her hair was angry."
The most powerful and depressing scene is where Daisy is being helped by her teacher Mr Hobson. Earle delicately traps her (and most readers, I would guess) into thinking that he is her saviour. A scene between them, where things quickly turn nasty, is disturbing and haunting.
As with Being Billy, though, there is a positive and nourishing message in the midst of such heartache. In a perfect world every child who is at odds with the world would have an understanding adult to go to. That person would act as a safety net in times of trouble, even if it's just to lend a sympathetic ear. In Saving Daisy, that person is Adebayo (Ade) and her relationship with the girl is skillfully done and very moving.
Second novels, like second albums, can be tricky because of high expectations but Earle has passed his test with flying colours.