Released On: 06/11/2022
In sleepy, rural North Wales, Frankie Gibbs, a recently laid off, aimless twenty-year-old on Universal Credit, wants nothing more than to keep his younger brother out of the care system. He single-handedly takes this upon himself while their alcoholic, cocaine-addict, single-parent father, Guy Gibbs, heaps misery on their lives through systematic abuse and his never-ending wild parties. After Guy is sent to prison, Frankie is coerced into opening his home to Justin, an acquaintance from his school days now turned drug dealer, while his own addiction and self-worth spiral beyond recognition.
Thanks to George for the gifted copy of his book.
I will admit, from the synopsis it does sound like it is going to be a very depressing book. And I won’t lie, some of it is. It’s gritty and awkward, but it does have its high moments too. In fact, I’d say the higher moments shine more because of its serious undertones.
I really like Wales but I didn’t even the Wales I know in this book. I know Wales for its green hills and it’s pleasant atmosphere. This is the complete antithesis of this, which was an interesting side of the country to read about.
I saw online that George writes screenplays and I think that comes across very well. It’s very visual, with everything – good and bad – described in such detail, from the smells to the hangovers.
The characterisations over this book is one of the highlights, how everyone develops and how their friendships and relationships, motivations and ambitions impact the others.
It reminded me somewhat of Trainspotting in its brutality and it’s gritty honesty about addiction and abuse. It’s not always comfortable to read. I felt the ending was satisfactory and neatly done, you don’t feel short changed at any point.
There is a lot of focus on things like snooker games, some taking up several pages. I have no interest in snooker at all, and therefore these pages felt a little stretched. But I’m aware that if you are a snooker fan, you’d get more out of those scenes. But this is obviously more of a personal opinion than an opinion on the book itself.
It is very dialogue heavy, and for me, slim on the actual plot. This is a positive and a negative. I like characters and character development more than plot, but with so much dialogue, if for any reason you miss a bit or don’t rests down a bit, you can end up lost. There are a few bits that feel a bit clunky but overall I think he’s found a nice balance.
Whilst there were good points – it’s very absorbing, puts you right into the mix of it from the first chapter – I’d say overall it is not my kind of book. Nothing wrong with the storytelling or characterisation, George’s passion and honesty, it just didn’t grab me as much as it may someone who is more into this gritty, underworld, crime scene. But that wouldn’t put me off recommending it. There are friends I know this wouldn’t be suited to, for similar reasons to myself (not their kind of genre), but there are others for which I think this would be right up their street. It’s a simple case of taste.