Straight outta Crongton by Alex Wheatle (Review)

Crongton

Round these ends, it’s hard to hold on to your dreams

Life’s a constant hustle for Mo. Her mum’s boyfriend Lloyd is just another man who likes to beat down women; the South Crong streets are fraught with hazards and nasty G’s; and when it comes to matters of the heart . . . she’s still hung up on Sam.

No wonder she’s vexed so much of the time.

Thank god her sistrens, Elaine and Naomi, are on her side: if one of them falls then they all fall.

But when badness goes down and a life is left hanging in the balance, Mo has to face her hot urge for revenge . . . and she might end up losing more than she wins.

304 pages

Firstly this is number 3 of a series – I didn’t know this… fortunately it seems that they are companion novels set in the same place rather than being exclusively about the same characters. I managed to read this without feeling as though I had missed out on something from the earlier books.

I found the language difficult at first, the teenagers live on a housing estate in London and are constantly using slang – the police are “feds”, they have “bruvs”, “G’s” and “sistrens” – there are lots more…. but once I got used to it there was no problem (it just took a while).

The storyline of both the main character and the side characters were really interesting. They felt real and believable, and extremely relevant to the world we live in.

The story started out simply enough with a group of teenage friends trying to live in a pretty rough estate, talking about school and boyfriends, then it takes a turn with the actions of Mo’s mum’s boyfriend. From there on it is really dark. Gangs, revenge, rape, isolation, mental health issues are all discussed and very effectively.

I really enjoyed this, and I absolutely LOVED the ending.

It isn’t often you can come across a book that is so easy to read, laugh out loud funny in places, really dark in others, with a thread of sadness and a hint of hope.

BRILLIANT – recommended to anyone interested in looking at the lives of teenagers and gangs in the UK.

Received a copy via Netgalley for review

Finished on April 4th 2017

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You can buy the book here if you wish

Straight Outta Crongton by Alex Wheatle

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