This is the first review of the book Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart written by Chris! Douglas Stuart is the same author of Shuggie Bain.
I am exceedingly lucky and fortunate to have read Young Mungo well in advance of it’s April publication. This book truly took my breath away. I honestly could not put it down; and I could not wait for my breaks in work; I could not wait for my tube rides to and from wherever I was going; I could not wait to go to bed where I could read till the wee small hours. Fifteen year old Mungo and his story will always have a place in my heart; the writing is phenomenal and it will keep you gripped right to the very last brilliant page.
Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.
But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.