Hello Mum by Bernardine Evaristo
IQ "To be honest, it was safer to leave London than move across it." Jerome pg. 13
In a story that is only 83 pages, a story unfolds about a tragic event that occur ed on a hot summer day in London. Teenage boys were in a chip shop and things got rough, resulting a teenage boy being stabbed. His mother doesn't understand how this could have happened. As an explanation is shared, she realizes it may not be something she wants to hear.
The Incredible Quote I shared may seem rather simple but it left an impact on me. Not because I don't understand it, but because I never imagined someone saying something like that about LONDON. I knew about soccer gangs from How Soccer Explains The World, but I never stopped to consider that Europe has gangs that aren't just related to soccer. Just goes to show how blissfully unaware I can be. The IQ could so easily be talking about any other city, and that's heart wrenching. The most compelling element of this story for me was the description of life in the rougher neighborhoods of London. I had a romanticized view of London and that has been changed. I'm not sure what these rough-neighborhoods are called in London (in America, rightly or wrongly they are often called ghettos. A phrase I'm not fond of) so for now I'll simply refer to it as a neighborhood. This book also illustrates that people's needs are the same. Jerome and his 'thug' friends want hot girls, clothes, shoes and cars. They also want respect. It's the same regardless of what continent you are on, their desires are no different than what any other teen would want. They just go about gaining all these cool things in a different (and oftentimes illegal) way than most people. Not only did I learn more about gang life in London, but I learned about the slang used. A question. Does geriatrics mean elderly people? (I don't mean to say geriatrics is slang, I just want to know what it means).
I was skeptical at how much could come across in such a short book. I shouldn't have worried, there was plenty of explanation of events and people to satisfy me. And yet I don't give the book the highest of ratings. This is because I felt no connection to the narrator. The story wasn't terribly gripping because I had already predicted what happened. The narrator was genuine. He was mostly sarcastic and rude, which hid how scared and frustrated he was with his situation. I felt sympathy for him, but that was it. He didn't make me laugh or cry, and he's not someone I would want to get to know in real life. I realize that sounds rather shallow but that's how I felt, no emotional connection. I didn't like the format of the story either. I explain more in the SPOILER(Highlight to Read): How on Earth could he have written a letter to his mother while he lays dying on the street? Um no. It was just too unrealistic and it annoyed me (probably more than it should have). Instead I think someone else should have told the story or the mom should have find some of his writings (since he wrote poetry and rap) that explained what life was like for him.*End of Spoiler
Hello Mum is a quick but far from light read. The conclusion is expected, but the strength of the story lies in the journey to the end, learning about why and how this stabbing occurred. Personally, I felt no emotional connection to any of the characters, but that could easily be different for other readers. I think this read might be most beneficial to American readers who have no idea what everyday life is like for people who live in the rougher neighborhoods of London. This is an eye opening read, not just in talking about the antics of gangs, but in the slang and descriptions of life in London. What may come as a surprise is in how similar gangs seem to view the world and their position in it, regardless of where they live.
Disclosure: Received from Book Fairy #3. *Hugs* Thank you!