I recently read the book Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. This book was published in Feb 2020 and has been on my list of books to read for some time. When I saw that it was also nominated for the Booker Prize I knew it was time. Shuggie Bain is all about characters and atmosphere. A noble, tragic, beautiful, imperfect cast is the highlight of this story, set in and around Glasgow in the 1980’s. This is an impoverished group, struggling to get ahead but continually knocked back down by circumstance, addiction, and violence. Agnes and her youngest son Shuggie steal the show here. The cover art for the US hardcover edition gives a powerful visual synopsis of the story.
And here is the actual synopsis from Google Books:
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.”
Hope for the best, but expect the worst as you read this inspiring but heartbreaking story. I give it five stars out of five.