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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.6 out of 5
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  • Beauty in A Sad Tragedy

    In 1981 Shuggie is a 5-year-old stuck in a small Glaswegian flat with his parents, grandparents, and 2 siblings. At that moment is mother is still a functioning alcoholic. When they move out to a small mining community outside the city, his dad leaves them and his mother’s drinking gets worse and worse. His oldest sister moves out as soon as she can marry and moves away to South-Africa. His older brother, a gifted artist, disengages but still tries his best. Shuggie is an odd child, unlike all the other boys. Something, that’s repeatedly beaten into him by his peers. He’s a mummy’s boy but also plays with a doll and my little ponies. At age 7, he already takes himself to school and looks after his mum’s drunken stupor. Sometimes things seem to get better, but the comedown hits always worse than before. Some of my GR friends posted such praising reviews that I had to read this myself. I was not mistaken, this book is brilliant. In all its sadness and tragedy, this is a beautiful story. It’s about the never-ending hope of a little boy and the love for his mother no matter what she does. It is also a chilling portrait of the very recent social history of which many people have absolutely no idea. I do recognise many of the problems people had with poverty from my own stays in London at the time (area of 7 sisters) such as the money fuelled meters. I had never seen such things in Belgium then but we do have them now. They don’t work on cash though; you must go to an official point and charge your plastic card. I guess they got wise about that. Another feat that I observed was the habit of sharing your pack of cigarettes around when you had one. As I took the ferry every few months, I was blessed in that way. Over here the cigarettes were still a lot cheaper then so that everybody would have their own packs at all times. The author paints a chilling, detailed portrait of the city, the tenements, the Pithead community, the noises and silences, all sorts of environments and circumstances to the cracks in the pavement and the prevalent cabbage smells. You can close your eyes and see it all before you, no detail spared. Where I could feel sorry for Agnes because she was dealt an unfair card, her own parents are both drinkers and she doesn’t seem to have much luck. But she’s also to blame for a lot of the problems she created. I don’t mean that she just should have stopped drinking; that’s easier said than done and the AA is certainly not for everyone. The choices she makes and the attitude she has, make it a lot harder for her than should have been. But for Shuggie, my heart bleeds. He’s such an awkward boy, different from all those around him but with so much love inside him. The manner, in which he practises to be a normal boy, brings tears to your eyes. As a foreigner, I’m not an ideal judge of accents, but I could hear the voices when I read the rendering of Glaswegian dialect. It is the first book where I wonder how the audiobook would sound. I also learned a few new expressions as ‘flytipper’ and ‘wean’ I thank Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the free ARC they provided and this is my honest, unbiased review of it.

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    26 person found this review helpful

    26 people found this review helpful

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Heartbreaking

    An incredibly well written but heartbreaking story that was difficult to read at times because of the pain and suffering on display. While I appreciated Stuart’s writing skills and was glad I read the book, I am not sure it is a book that I could recommend to my friends for them to “enjoy” which is a shame because it is a book I would love to discuss with others.

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    7 person found this review helpful

    7 people found this review helpful

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The most remarkable book I've ever read

    I doubt I'll ever read another book as thoroughly extraordinary as this—a debut written with all the mastery of the very best authors of our time. To have written so beautifully and honestly about alcoholism and the devastating affects it can have on every member of a family, I fear the author must have a personal connection to the issue. I should note that, if you grew up in a family with an alcoholic (as I did), this story may, at times, be difficult to read. But you mustn't reject it for this reason alone because, if you do, you will miss out on one of the very best things you will ever read! Be brave, let the tears flow if they will, and I promise you the effort will definitely be worth the reward. You simply will not find a better read than this. Shuggie Bain is unquestionably the most remarkable book I've ever read. I will never forget it.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A touching story.

    One of those books that sucks you in and touches your soul. While maybe not an 'enjoyable' read - a very touching one. Stuart gives great insight into the strong bond between mother and child and the joy and pain it can cause. A glossary of the Scottish terms might have been a nice addition though.

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Love of Shuggie

    Overwhrlmin overwhelming. Heartrending you cant help feeling sorry for shuggie. What a compasionate son. This is the best novel i read in years

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    0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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