Monday 7 December 2020

Just a Small Town - Paul Linggood


A small town that could be anywhere: industry in decline, streets in decay, many have left, while those left behind take short-term joy in drugs. Four young people are among the left behind. Alex consumes heroin to escape his abusive father. Jim hides from guilt after the death of the friend he didn't save. Chelsi's brother killed a local boy, and ostracism pushes her towards a rival gang, prostitution and loneliness. Danny is a hustler but needs protection from the drug gang that supplies him. Can any of them survive the addiction, gang life, isolation and manipulation? Their small town could be anywhere.

What did I think?

Now and again you find a book that stays with you so long after reading that you can't get it out of your head, that book for me is Just a Small Town.  It's quite a short book at only 180 pages but every single word has been chosen carefully resulting in a gripping, gritty and brilliant read.

Just a Small Town is a clever title in itself as it could be set absolutely anywhere, you just need to read your local newspaper to see similarities to this book in your own area.  The story follows four young people who live in a deprived area and it's heartbreaking to see them transform from innocent children to doing whatever they need to do to survive.  Only the strong survive in this town.

I love how each chapter is dedicated to a particular character and their various guises as they change over time.  It made me so angry to see how these youngsters were groomed and manipulated and it's even more shocking when you realise that this sort of thing does actually happen in real life.  It's so thought-provoking and I think we really need to help deprived areas to give children a chance at life; no child should have to grow up so quickly and in such difficult circumstances.  I'll get off my soapbox now!

Just a Small Town is an exceptional book and a brilliant debut; Paul Linggood brings this eye-opening story to life through his outstanding writing that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  The writing is so vibrant and the characters are so well developed and multi-dimensional that I could almost see them leaping from the page.  I don't want to give anything away but I have to say that the ending is just brilliant.  Have a virtual round of applause Mr Linggood. 

One of the best debuts I have read this year, Just a Small Town is a tour de force from Paul Linggood and highly recommended reading.  This is a perfect book to discuss at book club or with friends; I'll certainly be talking about it for a long time!

Many thanks to Paul Linggood for sending me a copy of his book to read and review; all opinions are my own.

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