“We were bowled over by this first novel, which creates an amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love. The book gives a vivid glimpse of a marginalized, impoverished community in a bygone era of British history. It’s a desperately sad, almost-hopeful examination of family and the destructive powers of desire.”


Just finished Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Debut novel. This terrific first novel has been shortlisted for both The Booker Prize and The National Book Award.
This story takes place in Glasgow, Scotland during the 1980’s. The title character, Hugh Shuggie Bain is a young boy who lives with his beautiful mother Anne and his older brother Leek. His older sister has already flown the coop. They have a different Dad than Shuggie, from his Mothers first marriage, but Shuggie’s Dad is a runaround and he is itching to leave himself. They are relatively poor living day to day on government aid and stealing money from the coin boxes for their electricity and their tv. Shuggie is also not like the other kids his age. He tends to act more like a girl and so brings a lot of unwanted attention to himself from bullies and just about everyone else.

The real problem for Suggie and his brother is that their Mom is an alcoholic, which they have to deal with on their own. Leek wants to leave so Shuggie, not even 10 years old yet, would be the man of the house and would be responsible to take care of his Mother.
That is the Main crux of the story, what Shuggie and his mom go through everyday to survive.
At times a brutal story, sad and heartbreaking, the reality of those living in Scotland in these depressed neighborhoods where work and money were scarce but the drink seemed to be always available shows a way of life that was almost impossible to deal with. The fight that Shuggie takes to save his mother is both sad and remarkable, as he also had to deal with his own identity at the same time and at such a young age.
A brilliant book, highly recommended. Without question one of the Books of the year as shown by the attention it is receiving in this book award season.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 12th November 2020