By Lena McMillan, Family Support Development Officer
February’s book choice for our group was ‘The Young Team’ by Graeme Armstrong. Spanning the years 2004 – 2012, during which time Glasgow was named the ‘murder capital of Europe,’ this is a story about a boy who joins a gang. Entry to the gang gives him an identity, a taste for violence, a brotherhood, and days and nights caught up in alcohol and drugs – something that starts out as fun but descends into addiction and the push-pull of wanting to stop but feeling compelled to keep on going.
This is also a story of so much more – it shows the person behind the persona and encourages us to understand their sensitivity, their motivations, their humanity. It descriptively immerses us into a world many of us would otherwise never experience and it invites us to challenge our assumptions. It has moments that will make you laugh out loud and moments that will break your heart. Ultimately, it is a story of hope.
Set in North Lanarkshire, it is written in the local dialect, which adds to its authenticity. There is swearing in the book – lots of swearing – again adding to its down-to-earth genuineness. For three of our group, this put them off reading the book altogether and they chose not to rate it for this reason. For the rest of the group though, this book was a huge hit, scoring an impressive 9.3/10. Some of our readers said it had taken them a while to get their heads around the language used and found the scenes of fighting and violence difficult. Many of our group found it relatable to their own vicarious experience of substance use, as they’ve witnessed their loved one’s struggle with this. There was a general feeling that Armstrong covers this topic honestly, with one of our readers saying they found the book ‘eye-opening and powerful in helping me understand the addiction.’
One reader shared their sadness at the book ending, another said they had deliberately slowed down their reading pace because they didn’t want it to end, and others spoke about recommending it to family and friends.
Our discussion was jam-packed with positive comments and praise for a truly remarkable first novel:
If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, firstname.lastname@example.org or use the webchat on our website.