I am a sucker for an award winner. While I think that books, like music or art are a very personal thing, it is helpful when those that are believed to be worthy of the task help us sort through what may or may not be worth reading. Shuggie Bain did not disappoint. There are some books that haunt you for ever after reading like Yanagihara’s “A Little Life” and Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to Talk about Kevin”, a few Chapters in and I thought Shuggie Bain might be the third.
It is the story of a boy, Shuggie growing up in Glasgow in the 1980’s with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. It is a story of pride and courage and love in the midst of immense poverty and devastating alcoholism. You are routing for the two main characters from the very first page, both stuck in an unending cycle of bullying and betrayal.
Despite this, the fight for survival, the determination to hold their heads up high under any circumstances prevents this book from being too bleak and shows us the power of the human spirit is the face of adversity.
This is a book of extraordinary intimacy, and Shuggie will stay with you long after you have turned the final page.