This book. THIS BOOK.
I’ve been meaning to write this review for weeks now but I just didn’t know if I was emotionally ready or if I could even put my love for it in to words.
Love, for starters, might be the wrong word because this book is bloody hard to read. It’s not particularly long or dense. It’s certainly not to do with the quality of the writing. The emotional journey you and the characters experience in Shuggie Bain is what makes it tough. I had to take frequent breaks to get through it. It is certainly not a fun, quick read and many readers might find it difficult to get through.
Perhaps this is why I ‘loved’ the book: it challenged me and really made me consider a perspective outside of my own.
For context, Shuggie Bain is about a young boy called, you guessed it, Shuggie Bain, who grows up in 1980s Glasgow. His family have to deal with poverty, abuse and the devastating effects of alcoholism. It really doesn’t shy away from the gritty side of this too. More than that though, it is a novel about love and family. This means that it does have it’s toughing moments woven through, which combines to create a book which is utterly heartbreaking in its intimacy.
Douglas Stuart has done a fantastic job of creating complex characters and capturing their nuances on a page. These characters truly do come to life on the page until you are so invested in their stories. I was so desperate for the characters to find their happiness from page 1 to page 430. I wish I could tell you more about how amazing these characters are and the journey they go on but I don’t want to spoil it for you. You really should watch things unfurl for yourself for the maximum impact. Just don’t blame me if you shed a tear or two…
If you are ready for a book that is both challenging and provocative, you should check out Shuggie Bain. Just be warned that you might need some tissues on hand: this book is a fantastic balance between beautiful and fiercely, fiercely sad.
I know this book won’t be for everyone and that is completely ok but personally, it is one of the best books that I have read this year. I just know that this is going to stay with me for a long, long time…