Young Mungo - a review by Marc Forrest-Thomas

I recently said that I liked books that are brutal but beautiful, I feel like I could easily have been describing Douglas Stuart’s writing directly (I was speaking generally). Young Mungo certainly fits the above brief. At its heart it is a coming of age love story but there is so much more to it than that. This is about growing up in the harshest of ways, experiencing the ugly in the world first hand but still managing to find the beauty.

The central love story is between Protestant Mungo and Catholic James, think Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story, forbidden love essentially but now imagine that against the backdrop of hyper masculine, working class, Glaswegian Council estates. Mungo doesn't quite fit in anywhere, especially not with his violent gang leader brother Hamish, who takes it upon himself to try to ‘toughen’ Mungo up and involve him in horrific territorial gang fights. The only comfort he has at home is his relationship with his sister Jodie, who fills the void often left by his consistently absent alcoholic Mo-Maw (mother). Mungo finds a secret friendship when he meets James and feelings soon develop further.

This book is laced with violence but it is all relevant and doesn't diminish the beauty of the story, if anything the contrast emphasis it, you will find lots of love within its pages and also a very distinctive Scottish sense of humour. I won't give away too many details, especially as the book hasn't been released yet but I will say that this is an incredibly impactful novel that will devastate you and elate you in equal measure. I personally found myself desperately needing to know what was about to happen, fearing that the boys would be found out but then also not wanting the story to end. The world loved Shuggie Bain, myself included but Young Mungo is really special and I can't wait to see how it's received.

I'm looking forward to hearing Douglas Stuart discuss his writing at ChipLitFest later this month as part of his book tour. Young Mungo is released on 14/04/22

Young Mungo 8pm Thurs 21 April The Theatre. Douglas will be interviewed by Joe Haddow

Our guest blogger Marc Forrest-Thomas joins us from Solihull:

I’m Marc, a simple boy with a wide ranging love of books. Seriously, I love books of all shapes and sizes (and genres).

I’ve been reading since I was a teenager and my love of literature has only grown as I’ve gotten older. Fiction is my go to, I gravitate towards beautiful and brutal stories but I’ll generally read anything that piques my interest. I’m largely contemporary in my tastes and love anything that feels fresh and different, I’m often looking for something new and always respect a new style, even if they aren’t always necessarily to my liking. I love the escapism that reading provides me, whatever is happening in the world around me, as long as I have a book with me I can disappear into another world and enjoy the company of the characters within.

Find Marc on Instagram @bookmarc_83