It’s the 4th Tuesday of the month and I should be sharing my April update on my One Little Word but I’m not quite ready with this month’s prompt yet and that actually works out perfectly well since today it’s my turn to convince you to read Shuggie Bain, the Read With Us spring book selection. For those of you who want the details, it’s available on Amazon for $23 as a hardcover and for the kindle for $8.67. You can also find it on Audible. There should be a version available from your local library, either audio or print or ebook. It’s new-ish but doesn’t seem to have long waiting lists in my area so hopefully you’ll be able to get it that way if you prefer to use the library.
Scheduling wise, Bonny will be promoting the book on May 4th, Kym will be doing her promo post on May 11th, we’ll be doing our bog discussion and Zoom night on June 8th, and I’ll be doing a wrap up of the whole thing on June 15th.
Okay, onward to my pitch.
I’ll start by being perfectly honest and tell you that this is a difficult book to read. It’s not difficult in terms of the writing, which is brilliant but also accessible, but rather it’s difficult in terms of the subject matter. The book tells the story of Shuggie, a sweet boy who is bullied by the other children in the neighborhood, and he is being raised by his alcoholic mother Agnes in public housing in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1980s. Their living conditions are deplorable, their future is bleak, and abuse is rampant. Yet Shuggie loves his mother and is loyal to a fault, caring for her and defending her and desperately believing in her in a way that’s just plain heartbreaking.
Like Shuggie, I was raised by an alcoholic mother. It’s something I never admitted or talked about until after she died because, also like Shuggie, I was loyal and protective. It was imperative that no one knew how much she drank and so I lived a life that was guarded, full of uninterrupted worry about what I would come home and find after school, constantly assessing and reassessing her mood, never experiencing the carefree childhood that I desperately wanted. While I didn’t live in poverty like Shuggie did and I wasn’t abused to the extent that he was . . . I nodded my head and understood his plight in a very real and personal way.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before but when it comes to books, the ones I love the most are the ones that I can completely immerse myself in. While reading this book I could feel the cold of the wind blowing through the thin walls of the house. I could smell the stale lager and cigarette smoke. It became so real that I was repeatedly surprised when I lifted my head from the pages and found myself safe in my own living room.
I hope you will read it despite the dark nature of it. Because yes, it’s dark and difficult. But it’s also so full of humanity that you can’t help but love it.