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InstaReview: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

"Flames are not just the end, they are also the beginning. For everything that you have destroyed can be rebuilt. From your own ashes you can grow."

Shuggie Bain tells the story of young Shuggie, who lives in Glasgow with his alcoholic mother. Much of the story centers around their relationship, which is tainted by her alcoholism- an ebb and flow that includes short periods of time when she is able to overcome as well as the bleakness when she is in the throes of her affliction. Given his mother's struggles, much of the rest of the family has disappeared from their life, leaving Shuggie to often fend for and raise himself, to some disastrous consequences. The book is a triumph- it is rich, with complex characters who you will often be frustrated with, accompanied by the seedy and unwelcoming backdrop of 1980s working-class Glasgow which is unfriendly to queer boys like Shuggie. The materials is often dark- so we need to warn that the novel includes sexual abuse, suicide, and homophobia. If you can embrace the often disheartening realities of humanity, which we encourage you to do, you will love the weight of this book. 4.5 from us!


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