A Novel


You aren't stupid.
You know there's no such thing as a perfect mother.
Plenty of other books will tell you there is, but this one
won't lie to you.

I was weak and I cheated and I was punished, but my god
I loved my child through all of it. Love means you never
break, and it means you're stronger than the things they
do to you. I know this is true because I have been through
fire, and I am the proof that love survives.

I am not a perfect mother but I will tell you the perfect
truth, because this is you and me talking.

This is my story.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442354241 | 
  • June 2012
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Novelist Chris Cleave Discusses Incendiary

Chris Cleave, international bestselling author of Little Bee, discusses his first novel, Incendiary—the captivating story of a woman who loses her young son and husband in a terrorist attack in London.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Incendiary includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Chris Cleave. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A distraught woman writes a letter to Osama bin Laden after her four-year-old son and her husband are killed in a massive suicide bomb attack at a soccer match in London. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, she tries to convince Osama to abandon his terror campaign by revealing to him the desperate sadness and the broken heart of a working-class life blown apart. But the bombing is only the beginning. While security measures transform London into a virtual occupied territory, the unnamed narrator, too, finds herself under siege. At first she gains strength by fighting back, taking a civilian job with the police to aid the antiterrorist effort. But when she becomes involved with an upper-class couple, she is drawn into a psychological maelstrom of guilt, ambition, and cynicism that erodes her faith in the society she’s working to defend. And when a new bomb threat sends the city into a deadly panic, she is pushed to acts of unfathomable desperation—perhaps her only chance for survi see more

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About the Author

Chris Cleave
Lou Abercrombie

Chris Cleave

Chris Cleave is the author of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, Gold, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.


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