by Melvin Burgess. Published by Andersen Press and Penguin. I’ve finally got hold of a copy. The launch of the cool new cover by Penguin has made it far more available than it used to be. So here’s my review of it.
Wow! This is a fantastic book – definitely the best book by Melvin Burgess that I have read (but I haven’t yet read the Bloodtide books and I’ve heard they’re very good). Every parent and every teenager should read it.
There isn’t much said about Heroin, so this book will obviously draw comparisons with Trainspotting. It’s about Gemma and Tar and how things happen in their lives that leads them into a world of heroin. It feels so shockingly real – nothing in the plot is convenient; nothing leads to a perfect ending as it wouldn’t in real life, and nothing makes you think you’re not reading a true story. Like Trainspotting (though my comparisons are with the film as I haven’t read the book), it doesn’t preach at you ‘Drugs Are Bad. Just Say No’; it tells you how good Heroin feels, and the good side to the lifestyles – the freedom of squatting with no parent telling you what to do. But in real life it never continues to be good, so the book continues the story with how they try and beat their addiction, how they pay for their addiction, the harrowing truth of using heroin and what it leads to, and follows it right through to an inevitable and best ending there could be.
I suppose it was a little slow to start, but it had to be to show how they ended up how they ended up. Tar’s story is probably common with young kids who need to run away from home; but Gemma’s is more shocking because it shows just how easy it can be. Like I said – every parent should read it and that’s mainly as a stark warning that if you handle your child like this; this is what could happen to them. Every teenager should read it, because it will squash any temptation to use heroin (if you’re still worried, give them a Kurt Cobain biography as well).
It’s set in the mid 1980s, but it brought back great memories of the early 90s for me. I also loved the rant about skips. In 1993 I got a cool lilac feather boa out of a skip. My cat Misty loved it :o)
An excellent book and highly recommended.