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Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn't want to be tied down - not to anyone or anything. Gemma wants to fly. But no one can fly forever. One day, somehow, finally you have to come down. Commissioned and produced by Oxford Stage Company, Junk premiered at The Castle, Wellingborough, in January 1998 and went on to tour throughout the UK in 1998 and 1999.  Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn't want to be tied down - not to anyone or anything. Gemma wants to fly. But no one can fly forever. One day, somehow, finally you have to come down. Commissioned and produced by Oxford Stage Company, Junk premiered at The Castle, Wellingborough, in January 1998 and went on to tour throughout the UK in 1998 and 1999. 


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Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn't want to be tied down - not to anyone or anything. Gemma wants to fly. But no one can fly forever. One day, somehow, finally you have to come down. Commissioned and produced by Oxford Stage Company, Junk premiered at The Castle, Wellingborough, in January 1998 and went on to tour throughout the UK in 1998 and 1999.  Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn't want to be tied down - not to anyone or anything. Gemma wants to fly. But no one can fly forever. One day, somehow, finally you have to come down. Commissioned and produced by Oxford Stage Company, Junk premiered at The Castle, Wellingborough, in January 1998 and went on to tour throughout the UK in 1998 and 1999. 

30 review for Junk (Puffin Audiobooks)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    "Not suitable for younger readers" - the warning on the back cover is well worth taking seriously. A classic and well-deserving Carnegie Medal winner, Junk is painful to read for the reason that it is truthful, accurate and told in the voices of young people falling victim to heroin addiction. They go through the various phases of invincibility delusion, adjustment to ever sinking standards, criminal behaviour, prostitution, desperate pain and physical downward spiralling while telling their lif "Not suitable for younger readers" - the warning on the back cover is well worth taking seriously. A classic and well-deserving Carnegie Medal winner, Junk is painful to read for the reason that it is truthful, accurate and told in the voices of young people falling victim to heroin addiction. They go through the various phases of invincibility delusion, adjustment to ever sinking standards, criminal behaviour, prostitution, desperate pain and physical downward spiralling while telling their life stories through their teenage perspective. It strongly reminded me of the true story of Christiane F., whose witness account on teenage drug addiction in Berlin in the 1970s was made into a book and later into a film, Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo. It haunted me for years after I read it in my early adolescence, and it leaves me pondering on what to do with Junk. Should I let my students and children read it? It is very good, and it will hardly trigger a healthy and stable young adult to try drugs. But it is a brutal account of violence and prostitution, and it might leave them with nightmares. Should one shield teenagers from the worst hardships, or let them discover the world in all its ugliness? That question always comes up when the American Library Association announces the latest banned or challenged books in school libraries. Most of the time, it concerns sexuality, bad language, violence or politically motivated messages. But this is teenage health and wellbeing potentially at risk. I guess there is no definitive answer to what is suitable for young adults, but I tend towards letting them read whatever interests them, while being ready in the background to talk to them and offer a platform for reflection. I will go with Oscar Wilde: "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." This one is well written.

  2. 4 out of 5

    F

    I read this years and years ago when i was about 11 so i remember it was very different reading it the 2nd time around when I am 26. Entertaining. I'd rather a YA about drugs any day of the week than some shitty high school romance. Fan girl etc etc etc etc I read this years and years ago when i was about 11 so i remember it was very different reading it the 2nd time around when I am 26. Entertaining. I'd rather a YA about drugs any day of the week than some shitty high school romance. Fan girl etc etc etc etc

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cora Tea Party Princess

    5 Words: Toxic, addiction, manipulation, love, realisation. This book is one of my favourites of all time. It's so real and brave and gritty and it's UKYA at its absolute prime. It's difficult and challenging. At the start, I always love Tar and hate Gemma. By the end I've always changed my mind about both of them. This book allows me to empathise with a type of person I would usually avoid at all costs. Gemma is probably my favourite character, even though I can't stand her (at all!) at the beginn 5 Words: Toxic, addiction, manipulation, love, realisation. This book is one of my favourites of all time. It's so real and brave and gritty and it's UKYA at its absolute prime. It's difficult and challenging. At the start, I always love Tar and hate Gemma. By the end I've always changed my mind about both of them. This book allows me to empathise with a type of person I would usually avoid at all costs. Gemma is probably my favourite character, even though I can't stand her (at all!) at the beginning. As shocking as this book is, as controversial as the subject matter is, that isn't what the book is about. The book is about relationships and growing and trying to find yourself. That the main characters are all junkies is just a fact, something that makes the whole process a little harder. I think Junk is a book that everyone should read at least once.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    I’m conflicted about this book. On the one hard, it’s absolutely brilliant. It really is. It’s slow to start, but after the first chapter I was pulled in and just kept turning page after page. I was desperate to know what happened next. The character voices sang to me – sang to me through the pages. On the other hand, the subject matter. I’m not one to mark a book down purely because of the subject matter. This deals with teenager runaways, teenage junkies, spoilt bitches who get everything they ev I’m conflicted about this book. On the one hard, it’s absolutely brilliant. It really is. It’s slow to start, but after the first chapter I was pulled in and just kept turning page after page. I was desperate to know what happened next. The character voices sang to me – sang to me through the pages. On the other hand, the subject matter. I’m not one to mark a book down purely because of the subject matter. This deals with teenager runaways, teenage junkies, spoilt bitches who get everything they ever wanted… What worries me is that there’s not really enough of an impact. Not enough goes wrong. There’s not enough to dissuade young impressionable minds from using drugs, from dipping in, from experimenting with needles and tablets and powder. Now, I’m not an impressionable teenage mind. I’ve never done drugs, never smoked, and I only drink alcohol once in a blue moon. I’m 24 years old. But, in light of recent events to deal with my personal situation, I have contemplated self-harm. I thought about cutting myself when I was so deep into stress, anxiety, and depression. And I only thought about it because from everything I’ve read, it’s not actually that bad. It helps with release. It helps make you feel better. Sure, you scar up afterwards, but I was looking for something to help me deal with my situation (which, in case you’re wondering, is this: I’m Australian, and I’m as good as trapped in shitty-town England for the foreseeable future. Which is not fun. There’s a lot of other factors contributing but that’s the main one.) I didn’t do it. By complete chance I accidentally opened a vein in my leg and bled all over my bathroom. My fiancée kept me calm and we eventually managed to close the vein. But the sight of all that blood scared me off thinking of cutting myself anymore. By the way, if you’re reading this? Don’t cut yourself. I am being completely honest when I say there are better ways of dealing with things. You don’t have to harm yourself to feel better. You don’t have to starve yourself or get drunk or shoot up. Talk to someone you trust and they will help you through whatever shit it is that you’re going through. But I was reading the book I was appalled, because here are a bunch of strong-voiced characters telling us how easy it is to get into drugs, how good it makes you feel, how easy it is to quit and pick you life back up.(view spoiler)[ No one dies from an OD. No one fucks up their life beyond repair (hide spoiler)] . The kids run away from home – one from an abusive family and the other because she’s a bratty spoiled little bitch who only wants her own way – and at the end of the book (view spoiler)[they manage to pick up the pieces of their lives and live on as if they never touched the stuff (hide spoiler)] . That’s what bothers me. What if someone younger and more impressionable than I picks up this book, sees how apparently easy it is to dabble in drugs, and decides to experiment themselves? What if they fuck it up – because it’s just not as simple as the book makes it seem. I suppose that’s why this book was challenged and talked about going on the banned list for a while. Because of the message it sends. But it also won a Carnegie Medal, so what the fuck do I know? I only know that I wouldn’t want my children to read this. I’d only want other adults, adults who know who they are and what they want out of life to read it. Adults who have decided whether or not they’re into drugs, alcohol, self-harm. Adults who won’t be swayed by such a sweet message. And I doubt that was the message, to be honest. The book’s not advocating drug use. It’s supposed to be some sort of warning. It’s supposed to turn kids off wanting to do drugs. I only know that if I had read it when I was younger, maybe I wouldn’t have had the strength to say no when something was offered to me. And truth be told, it really is an amazing book. Each character has such a distinct voice – and we jump around rather a lot. From a purely technical point of view, I don’t like how many different characters we jump into the POV from. Some of them seem completely irrelevant, telling a piece of the story that could have easily been told by someone else and therefore reduced the cast of characters. But then, I realised that each and every character has something important to say. Whether it’s a junkie trying to come down off a high or a lonely shopkeeper who visits prostitutes. It reflects the real world – Burgess even says so himself in a foreword: This is based on real stories, real events, and real people. People admit things in this book that they’d try to keep hidden from the other characters. Weakness. Shame. Regret. I had to put it down about half way through. I was fully expecting the appearance of the heroin, but I wasn’t expecting the (view spoiler)[teenage prostitution and pregnancy. (hide spoiler)] Now, don’t call me a hypocrite. I do some pretty awful things to my own characters. But those awful things happen in a high fantasy setting: it’s always a bit distant from a story set in the real world, based on real damn events. Characters are never given an introduction. They just randomly show up. At one point, I was wondering who the fuck one character was and it turns out it was (view spoiler)[one girl’s baby (hide spoiler)] . Time jumps forward in increments from a few minutes to a few months. I could never keep in my head how old they were. Those are the technical issues I had with the book, but I don’t think it’s enough to reduce a star. Eventually you could figure everything out. I suppose when it comes down to it, I didn’t even really like the characters, either. Gemma’s a selfish bitch. Tar’s weak. The other characters dance around the edges giving us their point of view when all I really want to do is read more about how Gem and Tar are fucking up their lives. I suppose I take one star off a five star rating because that promise never came to be. I was disappointed. But still, I loved this book so much and I think it is important that it be read – and yeah, maybe even teenagers SHOULD read it, so long as it’s with a guided discussion about it as well so they can dissect what happens in the book and come to the conclusion that is Don’t Do Drugs. And I know I’m probably not in the best place to be reviewing such a hard-hitting book because of this situational depression I’m in, but I want to hug it to my chest and the same time burst into tears.

  5. 5 out of 5

    N

    Junk is the drugs book against which I judge all drugs books, and so far nothing’s come close to matching Melvin Burgess’s unflinching portrayal of Bristol’s City Road in the 1980s through a heroin-addled lens. Burgess has no time for either hushed, poetic contemplations on heroin or clumsy, moralistic incitements to Just Say No. Without pretension, he wades into his milieu – with its squats, street kids and punk music – and matter-of-factly delivers a taut, compelling drama. Two naive 14-year-ol Junk is the drugs book against which I judge all drugs books, and so far nothing’s come close to matching Melvin Burgess’s unflinching portrayal of Bristol’s City Road in the 1980s through a heroin-addled lens. Burgess has no time for either hushed, poetic contemplations on heroin or clumsy, moralistic incitements to Just Say No. Without pretension, he wades into his milieu – with its squats, street kids and punk music – and matter-of-factly delivers a taut, compelling drama. Two naive 14-year-olds (poor, abused Tar, the son of two alcoholics, and his restless, reckless girlfriend, Gemma) run away from home and, over the course of the novel, they drift into drug addiction and slowly dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole out of which they can’t climb. However miserable their comedown, Burgess doesn’t cheat and pretend there’s any black-and-white to be found in heroin addiction: the initial sense of freedom is intense, the good times are sweet and the friendships genuine. The characterisation is sharp and wonderful, which helps to stop the novel from devolving into either a morality tale or a dark fantasy sequence. The teenagers feel like teenagers – lofty know-it-alls – until, gradually, the reader realises they’ve been beaten down into adulthood. Even peripheral characters like old codger Skolly or do-gooder Richard are nuanced, displaying both sympathetic quirks and hard-to-like weaknesses. Burgess skilfully uses first-person narrative to catch his characters in their lies and contradictions. It adds an important layer to what, at other times, feels like a straightforward teen novel. I hadn’t read Junk for a few years and I wondered if some of its gleam might have worn off for me. But no. I’m still mesmerized by Lilly in her string vest; I still catch myself hoping that the perfection of the characters’ heroin highs can last forever; I still sob at the broken pieces that are left at the end.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Meet Gemma and Tar, two 14 year old friends. Tar is a nice lad, thoughtful, intelligent and full of puppy love for Gemma, but Tar is also the victim of abuse from his parents. Gemma is a devoted friend, likes a good time and is all for helping Tar. She has parents the opposite of Tar's, they care too much and show this bytbeing too stric for Gema's liking. Both end up on the streets of Bristol to escape their parents, fall in love and get involved with fascinating but destructive couple Lily and Meet Gemma and Tar, two 14 year old friends. Tar is a nice lad, thoughtful, intelligent and full of puppy love for Gemma, but Tar is also the victim of abuse from his parents. Gemma is a devoted friend, likes a good time and is all for helping Tar. She has parents the opposite of Tar's, they care too much and show this bytbeing too stric for Gema's liking. Both end up on the streets of Bristol to escape their parents, fall in love and get involved with fascinating but destructive couple Lily and Rob who lead them further and further into squalid existence. They head into a devastating spiral of destruction from the first time they 'chase the dragon'. Melvin Burgess holds nothing back, it makes for an addictive if slightly stomach churning read. The story is told from different points of view of the various people involved in the lives of Gem and Tar which makes it more chilling and horrifying as the main characters think they have a grip on their addiction and can stop anytime they like. As the reader you can see what is going to happen and it is very realistic. Any prejudices and preconceptions you have ever had about junkies will be confirmed but also dispelled in this book, it punches real hard and even though you can see the destruction and know it's not going to end well, you can still feel empathy for the characters, especially Tar. A brilliant read that will remain with you and should be a lesson to all!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claire (Book Blog Bird)

    Wow. This was a powerful book. Tar and Gemma are fourteen year old friends. Tar comes from an unhappy background, filled with abuse. Gemma comes from a smothering family when all she wants to do is have a good time. When Tar decides to run away, Gemma supports him and then decides to join him on the streets of Bristol, thinking that being homeless for a while might be a bit of a laugh and alleviate the boredom of her existence. Once in Bristol, the pair live in a squat for a while and get involved Wow. This was a powerful book. Tar and Gemma are fourteen year old friends. Tar comes from an unhappy background, filled with abuse. Gemma comes from a smothering family when all she wants to do is have a good time. When Tar decides to run away, Gemma supports him and then decides to join him on the streets of Bristol, thinking that being homeless for a while might be a bit of a laugh and alleviate the boredom of her existence. Once in Bristol, the pair live in a squat for a while and get involved in the punk scene. Gemma is determined to sample all the delights a thriving city has to offer. Including heroin. This wasn’t an easy read at all - I consider myself moderately unshockable, but there are some fairly graphic descriptions of heroin use, violence and prostitution that made me cringe - but it was definitely a worthwhile one. It read like a Trainspotting for teenagers, although in some ways it was even more disturbing because the characters are so young. After a fairly slow start, the action ramps up and towards the end I couldn’t put it down. As a reader you have to just stand by and watch as these people flush their lives further and further down the toilet. Without giving anything away, there is redemption of sorts at the end. It’s not what I would call a happy ending, exactly, but it’s a satisfying one. The narrative is told from multiple first person viewpoints, which is a tricky thing to pull off but here it actually works because you get Tar and Gemma’s stories from lots of different directions. New narrators only come in once they’ve already been introduced as characters, so you kind of get a feel for who they are before they start moving the story along. You have the main characters - Gemma and Tar - who take up most of the narrative, but other characters chime in too, like a kind of smacked- up Greek chorus. There was plenty of character development in the story, considering the MCs use a whole bunch of heroin to effectively smoosh out any actually emotions they might be experiencing. Gemma is probably the best-developed character. She goes from this deeply irritating brat at the beginning of the book to a thoughtful, battle-scarred woman by the end. Tar doesn’t develop quite as much, but his reason for getting involved in heroin was to blank out his horrible home life, so I guess that makes sense. Like I said, this isn’t a happy read, but I’d recommend it to anyone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ❄️✨ Kat ✨❄️

    4.5 This is a tale of a group of runaway teenagers who end up addicted to smack/junk, aka heroin. We watch the characters spiral out of control, thinking "oh, I'll just be able to quit when I want to" which we find out is definitely not the case. Love happens, pregnancies happen (one in which the baby is basically born an addict as well), and death happens in one occurrence. Every chapter is told from someone else's perspective, which was one of my favorite aspects of this book. We hear about the 4.5 This is a tale of a group of runaway teenagers who end up addicted to smack/junk, aka heroin. We watch the characters spiral out of control, thinking "oh, I'll just be able to quit when I want to" which we find out is definitely not the case. Love happens, pregnancies happen (one in which the baby is basically born an addict as well), and death happens in one occurrence. Every chapter is told from someone else's perspective, which was one of my favorite aspects of this book. We hear about the addicts from their perspective as well as the perspectives of others. Great book for those who don't know what it's like to experience the disease of addiction, as well as for those who have walked that path before (be it their own or someone close to them). May be triggering for anyone in recovery.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    This book was recommended to me by a heroin addict, a beloved person who has since tragically died from an overdose. I'm still immersed in grief and read this to look for more answers. As difficult an account as it was, it definitely unsparingly showed the reality of what it's like to be under the influence of such a devastating drug. I can't even imagine what it's like to live with such an addiction but this was the closest I came to glimpsing what so many people have fallen victim to. The hor This book was recommended to me by a heroin addict, a beloved person who has since tragically died from an overdose. I'm still immersed in grief and read this to look for more answers. As difficult an account as it was, it definitely unsparingly showed the reality of what it's like to be under the influence of such a devastating drug. I can't even imagine what it's like to live with such an addiction but this was the closest I came to glimpsing what so many people have fallen victim to. The horror of it is eye opening and harrowing. Heroin takes away one's dignity, identity, values and personality and replaces all of that with a person unrecognisable to themselves and those who love them. It creates a need so intense for the next fix that everything else is obliterated. I had previously read Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction and consider that to be the best perspective of what it's like to helplessly watch your loved one become someone you don't know while under the influence of heroin. Smack, orignally called "Junk", is now it's counterpart for me as the most accurate story of the addict's perspective. In many ways this addiction is a terminal illness. The rate of recovery is low but not impossible. A very important drug called naloxene counters the deadly effect of an overdose and needs to be readily available in our society. The alternative is a mounting death toll and aching hearts as lives are ripped apart. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a disease and not a choice. The stigma of addiction needs to be removed so more people can be saved and better treatment options are developed for rehabilitation. We are losing wonderful, loving people by the minute. Heroin is a cheap drug and can be acquired easily. There is not enough public knowledge of its effects or help for those who are afflicted. I hope to be part of the change somehow.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I find myself just thinking "meh" about this book--which is pretty good since I HATED it throughout the first half. I found the characters, particularly Gemma, to be shallow and annoying. Basically I wanted to pull my hair out anytime I read a chapter from Gemma's point of view. Looking back though, I'm not sure that I was supposed to like any of the characters. I imagine that a 14-year-old bratty runaway turned drug-addict would probably be pretty close to how Burgess paints Gemma. So points fo I find myself just thinking "meh" about this book--which is pretty good since I HATED it throughout the first half. I found the characters, particularly Gemma, to be shallow and annoying. Basically I wanted to pull my hair out anytime I read a chapter from Gemma's point of view. Looking back though, I'm not sure that I was supposed to like any of the characters. I imagine that a 14-year-old bratty runaway turned drug-addict would probably be pretty close to how Burgess paints Gemma. So points for authenticity I suppose. Other than Gemma or Tar, I found the characters to be somewhat poorly developed. I especially wanted to hear more from Rob. I felt like he was just kind of there. I wanted to know how he felt, particularly as his relationship with Lily evolves. **I won't spoil it** The story was a bit slow at the beginning, but I got into it at about the halfway point. It provided some good discussion about drug use, family relationships, growing up, etc. for my reading circle, but beyond that I didn't love it. I did appreciate that it wasn't too preachy, and felt like it approached the issues from a more realistic place that kids might appreciate.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ria

    The cover is so fucking ugly but it's actually good The cover is so fucking ugly but it's actually good

  12. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This review contains some spoilers as I mention things that happen in the story to make some points Well, let me sum up this book in one gif (and I feel this is really appropriate) Oh, first off I need to say that I'm REALLY CONFUSED about how this is a children's book. I mean, it won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, among others, and I had to read this for my Children's Literature module. I- well, I would not let my child read this under the age of like 15. It's full of drugs (obviousl This review contains some spoilers as I mention things that happen in the story to make some points Well, let me sum up this book in one gif (and I feel this is really appropriate) Oh, first off I need to say that I'm REALLY CONFUSED about how this is a children's book. I mean, it won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, among others, and I had to read this for my Children's Literature module. I- well, I would not let my child read this under the age of like 15. It's full of drugs (obviously, and they're going on about how great they are it's like !!), sex, OD'ing/death, rape, attempted murder, theft, vandalism, prostitution, underage pregnancy, homelessness, abuse, domestic violence, prison, it's literally all in this and it's like......woah. Not suitable for a child, that's for sure. Anyway, getting that out of the way with, this was required reading for university that I actually kind of dreaded reading because I don't tend to read things like this. Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed it! It follows two 14 year olds Gemma and Tar who run away from home to be together (although it's not very romantic because the girl is literally like 'I love you' then 'I don't like you' and it's proper frustrating) and they mix with the wrong crowd. As in, some other homeless youths who do heroin and, to sum it up, get them addicted. First, we have David. Tar is his nickname due to his constant anti-smoking 'you'll get tar in your veins' (or something along those lines) which he preached in his pre-heroin days. I actually liked him a lot. At the start he was kind, hopeful, he saw the beauty of the world and his irritating girlfriend Gemma (I'll get to her in a minute..) and I found him to be pure. Sometimes gullible, stupid and weak, but I guess everyone has their weaknesses. Sadly his got him addicted to drugs and he struggled the most to get off it. He took so much shit from everyone, especially Gemma, and I just felt so sorry for him. He had it so bad and I just- *hugs him* Sadly he was a completely different person at the end of the book and that's the harsh reality of his lifestyle. And speaking of, I need to rant about Gemma. This bitch. She was basically some spoiled brat who couldn't get her own way at home so she ran off, became homeless and treat Tar like her little bitch. And basically the main reason I hate her: her need to be accepting started the whole drug shit in the first place! I will forever blame her for the way Tar ended up. It makes me mad that she becomes irritated with him at the end due to his issues with getting off the heroin when it was her fault in the first place, fucking cow. Anyway, I know she's not a real person but still, it really grinds my gears. Anyway, she is always on and off with Tar, not to mention she basically calls him a boring basic bitch before they do the drugs and as soon as they do them, he's all ~interesting. Fuck you. I just- me no like her. Lily and Rob were the bad apples in this, they were really bad influences and reading about them was just like reading about two people who were literally 'gone' and who are past helping completely. Especially Lily. I mean, in real life, she'd scare me because she's just completely bonkers. She loves drugs so much that she even does drugs while holding her baby and then breastfeeds, and injects whilst pregnant. It's just awful. I won't even start on the parents because none of them will get 'Parent of the Year' awards. Especially Tar's, JFC. The POV's in this story are interesting because it's so many people throughout the story, and it's always cool to see what everyone's thinking in specific parts of the book with a topic like this. Parents, each of the heroin kids in the house, people they know who don't agree with the lifestyle, it's all fascinating. Sometimes I'm like 'wait, who is this again?' but that's because I don't always pay attention! My own fault. I also feel like the story is written kind of like a diary? It's really weird, its such an unusual way of being written. Some words were written as if they were saying them like 'mouf' instead of 'mouth'. It's quite a long book but I think it was really interesting. I don't know much about drugs or anything but I do think it opened my eyes to what goes on in the world. Funnily enough when I took a break from reading, I turned the T.V on and saw a documentary from Louis Theroux about heroin addicts and I had to watch. I felt really helped me understand things in this book and get what's going on. Anyway, in conclusion, let me round this off by saying; this isn't a book for children, lots of bad things happen and nobody really catches a break, drugs are bad, this book is not. It was funny at times but kinda depressing to see some young hopefuls throw their life away because of something so horrible. Give this to a teen and it'll be a wake up call, a good example of what they could end up like if they do drugs. Don't do drugs, kids.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marita Hansen

    Rating: 4.3 stars,but I'm giving it 5 stars on here because I think the book's overall rating on this site is too low. Genre: Edgy Young Adult. Subject: A realistic look at heroine addicts in England. Synopsis: Gemma runs away from home because her parents are too strict, Tar runs away because his father hits him. Different reasons, but the same end result. They become addicted to heroine and will do anything to get a high. Over the span of five years we are taken through their lives and meet the s Rating: 4.3 stars,but I'm giving it 5 stars on here because I think the book's overall rating on this site is too low. Genre: Edgy Young Adult. Subject: A realistic look at heroine addicts in England. Synopsis: Gemma runs away from home because her parents are too strict, Tar runs away because his father hits him. Different reasons, but the same end result. They become addicted to heroine and will do anything to get a high. Over the span of five years we are taken through their lives and meet the same people that they do, from addicts to the few that want to help them. My Thoughts: As with Nicholas Dane this story was very sad, but well-written and captivating. Though, I did like Nicholas Dane better, I still got very much involved in the lives of Gemma and Tar, especially Tar. He was by far my favourite character, even though he had many faults. He was the type of person that you wanted to wrap up in cotton wool and keep away from the bad crowd, because he was so easily led into things. He was also the only one in the story that captured my heart, his sweet personality taking a real hammering with what he went through. Gemma was a much stronger character than Tar. But at the beginning very selfish. Like Vonny, she frustrated the hell out of me, and at one point I really disliked her. But, she grew as a person. However, she had to go through absolutely horrible experiences to do so. In the end I did come to appreciate her character and it took a lot of guts for her to do what she had to in the end, which was admirable. Lily was a horrifying character, because of how extreme she was. She was the biggest addict of all the friends, and her insistence that she was a good mother even when she shot up between her breasts while breastfeeding highlighted this perfectly. Her boyfriend, and the father of her child, was also a sad, sad character, especially with what we found out he had done in the end to get more junk. I thought the author did a good job of portraying the characters in the story, and I also liked how he named each chapter according to the narrator, because I also do this in my Behind the Lives series. The internal monologues were well done, although at times they did get a little laborious. Nonetheless, the story was still captivating enough to get me through those moments. Because of this, "Smack" isn't the type of book that is read quickly. It took me a while, because of the slightly duller moments. But, I think this was also because Melvin Burgess was taking us through a realistic portrayal of life, and as with life you get both the lulls and the highs (pun intended). And, I think certain moments in the book also overrode the more duller points, making me appreciate this story very much. Keywords: Drugs, Heroin, Addiction, Prostitution, Teens, Young Adult, England, Squatting. P.S. I remember reading a review, I think it was on Amazon, complaining that the author used the word "junk." This person complained that "junk" was an old-fashioned word and thus shouldn't be used. My thoughts were that the reviewer didn't read the book properly. Melvin Burgess uses appropriate words for the time period this story is set in: The 1980s. If he didn't, it wouldn't have felt right or have come across as so realistic. Conclusion: A bittersweet story that was definitely worth the read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Spider the Doof Warrior

    This isn't a terrible book, but I feel like I want to jump into it and smack every single one of these frustrating characters. It does a good job of simply saying FOR THE LOVE OF THE GODDESS'S SWEET BOOBS DON'T DO HEROIN! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! It will RUIN your life and you'll talk like you know everything and everyone will want to hit you as a result. 12/2016 So I read this book again and it still stresses me out. I reckon I'm trying to scare myself into not trying heroin since I am on medic This isn't a terrible book, but I feel like I want to jump into it and smack every single one of these frustrating characters. It does a good job of simply saying FOR THE LOVE OF THE GODDESS'S SWEET BOOBS DON'T DO HEROIN! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! It will RUIN your life and you'll talk like you know everything and everyone will want to hit you as a result. 12/2016 So I read this book again and it still stresses me out. I reckon I'm trying to scare myself into not trying heroin since I am on medicinal marijuana. Everyone insists marijuana is a gateway drug, but really alcohol is. It's more socially acceptable at least. This book still stresses me out. Especially Lily. I hate her. She struts around half nekkid going on and on about doing heroin and I just want to say, you are a silly teenager, stop making such bad decisions! Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh Also, reefer is so nice. Why even do heroin? Marijuana does have actual health benefits. It's can be soothing and relaxing. I don't understand the use of hard drugs. I want to avoid them like the plague. i swear this book should be called Teenagers Making Bad Decisions such as Using Heroin when they should not.

  15. 4 out of 5

    H

    Been almost a decade since I last read this. Bloody marvellous. Gritty and real, harrowing and beautiful and poignant and heart breaking and funny and terrifying and interesting. Enjoyed it just as much on the second read as I did the first time. I see a lot of bad reviews from Americans about the writing. Stop expecting 'American English' and read the bloody thing as its written - listen to a Bristol accent on YouTube if it will help! Been almost a decade since I last read this. Bloody marvellous. Gritty and real, harrowing and beautiful and poignant and heart breaking and funny and terrifying and interesting. Enjoyed it just as much on the second read as I did the first time. I see a lot of bad reviews from Americans about the writing. Stop expecting 'American English' and read the bloody thing as its written - listen to a Bristol accent on YouTube if it will help!

  16. 4 out of 5

    WaterstonesBirmingham

    ** spoiler alert ** I first read this in my teens and have been through about five copies of it. Wonderful because of its harshness. The nature of addiction shown through the gradual destruction of the characters, the acceptance of doing horrible things in order to get a fix and not a particularly happy ending. No one is really redeemed, just destroyed. Grace

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chilly SavageMelon

    Not as bad as I thought it might have been, another "heroin is bad" tale told from multiple angles centered around some young British runaways in the 80's. A novel that seems it wouldn't be too difficult to write yourself, even if you can't relate to the setting. Not as bad as I thought it might have been, another "heroin is bad" tale told from multiple angles centered around some young British runaways in the 80's. A novel that seems it wouldn't be too difficult to write yourself, even if you can't relate to the setting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Wehunt

    I usually like books like this, but this one didn't do it for me. I was totally bored and didn't care much for the characters. I usually like books like this, but this one didn't do it for me. I was totally bored and didn't care much for the characters.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amalee Renee

    After an exciting trip to a different library near me as my closest is very small and the YA section is even smaller. I went into this library with the intention to get a couple of extra books and ended up coming out with 12 books. I could’ve easily got more but my library account would not let me. This book really stood out to me and not just because of the reflective needle plastered across the front cover. I had already seen reviews saying how it so gritty and one of the best UKYA they had re After an exciting trip to a different library near me as my closest is very small and the YA section is even smaller. I went into this library with the intention to get a couple of extra books and ended up coming out with 12 books. I could’ve easily got more but my library account would not let me. This book really stood out to me and not just because of the reflective needle plastered across the front cover. I had already seen reviews saying how it so gritty and one of the best UKYA they had read in a long time.When I saw the introduction was written by Malorie Blackman I was really excited to read it as I have always loved books written by Malorie Blackman although I actually didn’t enjoy the introduction as much as I thought I would. I really enjoyed the rest of the book, which I found surprising due my previous love for Malorie Blackman. At first, I struggled with the constant changing point of views and I had to keep going back to the start of the chapter to remind myself who’s point of view it was in. Although, this was only a problem when I was reading lots at once as I had gotten use to one narrator for it to change. I really enjoyed this book and from the writing I could really resonate with the characters even though I’m not a drug addict. The development of the characters were slow but it was done in such a way I still felt very emotionally connected to the characters and when something bad happened to one of them I did feel sad. At the start of the book I really loved the character Tar but less so Gemma. I felt she was very dependent and her life that she thought was so bad was just her parents caring about her unlike Tar. At the end of the book however that had completely changed. I could really empathise with the people who in real life I would avoid at all costs. This book was very eye opening and really allowed me to observe the life of a group of underage teenagers who are all addicted to heroin, who had genuine struggles and what it must be like from their point of view which people don’t usually take into consideration. I have questions to ask Melvin Burgees as to how he portrayed it so well and from the reviews I have read I have seen that I am not the only impressed with the detail and accuracy of the book. It showed such a huge commitment to friends who despite will do anything for their next hit of heroin are always there for each other and despite not being successful whenever one of them decided to stop they all gave up together to help the other. When their friend is pregnant they all move away and have a cleanse and as a team try and quit heroin even though they don’t last it is the commitment of the group of friends that amazed me throughout. This book is one of those books that I think that everybody should read at least once in their life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erin Vandemerkt

    I would recommend this book to high school students because it can be an experience that relates to teens. The relatable part of the book for me was not that the Tar and Gemma did drugs, but that they looked for adventure and a way to escape from the world. I could, however, relate to the fact that they lost friends to overdoses. In Tar’s case, doing heroin was the only way to cope when he got abused. I can relate to the moment after Jenny talks about the overdose. After Jenny talks about it “sh I would recommend this book to high school students because it can be an experience that relates to teens. The relatable part of the book for me was not that the Tar and Gemma did drugs, but that they looked for adventure and a way to escape from the world. I could, however, relate to the fact that they lost friends to overdoses. In Tar’s case, doing heroin was the only way to cope when he got abused. I can relate to the moment after Jenny talks about the overdose. After Jenny talks about it “she thought of all the things she and Muriel had been through together, to OD now, when weeks and months went by without either of them using. To have her life snatched away just when she was making something of herself” (Burgess 8). I had a friend who had a very close friend that passed away from an OD and it was very hard for her. Even though she wasn’t a close friend to me, I had to help my friend get through it and deal with the pain. I felt the pain, probably not anywhere near what she was feeling, just watching her miss someone that could’ve been considered a sister. It was very difficult. Another quote that can be related to by many teens is “’My life is coming to an end, I cannot go on without her, oh, woe, oh, woe . . .’” (Burgess 146). Tar asks about Gemma and Lilly responds with that. I see my friends mocking each other about the people they are interested in. In a way, people in my life already do those types of things, but not using the exact words. Many people talk about being “in love,” but we are only 16 years old, so it could be easily mocked just as Lilly is doing. That is probably how Lilly feels in this situation. Overall, I feel that this would be a good book for teens to read because it could be easily relatable and insightful to what other teens with troubles go through.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Smack was one of those books that made me miss dinner and not get any of my homework done. It was as addicting as the drug it describes. The story of two runaway lovers and they're tale of the people they met and the adventerous ride of being an addict of herion, and the struggle of getting out of addiction. Tar, a victim of an abusive father, and an alcoholic mother who clings to Tar's side, decides he's had enough and runaways to Bristle, England. Tar is also in love with Gemma, who runs away Smack was one of those books that made me miss dinner and not get any of my homework done. It was as addicting as the drug it describes. The story of two runaway lovers and they're tale of the people they met and the adventerous ride of being an addict of herion, and the struggle of getting out of addiction. Tar, a victim of an abusive father, and an alcoholic mother who clings to Tar's side, decides he's had enough and runaways to Bristle, England. Tar is also in love with Gemma, who runs away with Tar, but only because she was bored of her old life, and was ready for something new. Together they meet another couple and they are introduced to Herion and are hooked immideatly. As the story continues, you see that this drug has changed each and every one drastically. One character, Lily, was very unique. She had her own religion, everything you do is amazing and beautiful, even if you get hurt, it was meant to happen. Five years later, Gemma has permantly kicked the habit, but that took a long journey and alot of thinking. Her and Tar have a child and start living together, but Gemma realized that she doesn't feel the same way about Tar like she did. This broke Tar completely. He doesn't say it straight out but in his last entry he talks about his new girlfriend and how great she is, but then he talks about him and how he's getting off of herion gradually, and he says that if he's completely off he may get Gemma back. Whenever i think about that it makes me want to crush Gemma for kicking him out! But this book was amazing, and i definatly recomend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Tar and Gemma are young teenagers who run away together; Tar has a reason, Gemma doesn’t – Gemma is bored of her life at home and sick of her parents, whereas Tar’s dad regularly beats him. They become squatters, and meet up with other runaways who introduce them to drugs; they are soon addicted, especially to heroin, and end up doing awful things like stealing and prostitution to fund their addiction. But whilst it is the central focus, this novel isn’t really about that; it’s about growing up Tar and Gemma are young teenagers who run away together; Tar has a reason, Gemma doesn’t – Gemma is bored of her life at home and sick of her parents, whereas Tar’s dad regularly beats him. They become squatters, and meet up with other runaways who introduce them to drugs; they are soon addicted, especially to heroin, and end up doing awful things like stealing and prostitution to fund their addiction. But whilst it is the central focus, this novel isn’t really about that; it’s about growing up – struggling and evolving as a person, or at least that’s how I interpreted it. Take Gemma for instance – at the beginning of the novel she was an annoying and selfish character who was immensely dislikeable, but by the end she had subtly changed into a much better person. The novel was written in the nineties, but set in the eighties and still manages to feel as though it is in the present-day, which shows that this is an ongoing problem, and I like the messages that the book holds. I felt that there were too many points of views, some of which were hard to keep track of, although they did provide a good insight into character’s heads, and each one was unique. I wasn’t too keen on Burgess’ writing style – it was easy to get into, but a bit jarring at times. It’s very bleak, realistic and hard to read some of the time, as well as being one of the grittiest books I’ve read, as Burgess doesn’t shy away from anything, and although it isn’t my kind of book (the reason why I’ve rated it lowly), I can see a number of people enjoying this powerful read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle

    Junk is the unapologetic and unflinching look into the effects of drug addiction, and the best book I have read all year. Set in 1980's Bristol and following the lives of two painfully young runaways, this book looks dead into the center the life of an addict and the devastating consequences that addiction brings. There was a surge in popularity of drug related films in the 90's and early 00's. And if you have ever seen "Requiem for a Dream" particularly, you will know the exact level of brutalit Junk is the unapologetic and unflinching look into the effects of drug addiction, and the best book I have read all year. Set in 1980's Bristol and following the lives of two painfully young runaways, this book looks dead into the center the life of an addict and the devastating consequences that addiction brings. There was a surge in popularity of drug related films in the 90's and early 00's. And if you have ever seen "Requiem for a Dream" particularly, you will know the exact level of brutality to expect in this book. Junk is written with the same incredibly high level of honesty about the lowest depths that an addict will sink to in order to obtain their next hit. You'll see how drugs destroy both physically and mentally as well as the reckless abandonment that ensnares it's users as addiction really takes hold. While movies boast a faster pace and visual appeal, there is something so immersive about written words that made me feel pulled into this dark world in a way that the movies never could. Overall it's gritty, real and an incredibly raw read. Junk never hovers into the realms of fantasy and it is the fact that it is so grounded in realism which makes it so horrifying. As stated in the first pages, it's a story that isn't fact but somehow every single word is true. This is an incredible and excellently written book for any age.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Another find from my mother's house. I think this was the first true 'young adult' book I read at the age of 11 and it really opened my eyes to what the world truely had to offer outside of my fantasy bubble. Themes involved recreational drug abuse, squatting, prostitution and underage pregnancy. At the time there were no books really aimed at young adults, and I think this was certainly a pioneer in offering young readers a more mature theme, with the confidence that they were emotionally ready Another find from my mother's house. I think this was the first true 'young adult' book I read at the age of 11 and it really opened my eyes to what the world truely had to offer outside of my fantasy bubble. Themes involved recreational drug abuse, squatting, prostitution and underage pregnancy. At the time there were no books really aimed at young adults, and I think this was certainly a pioneer in offering young readers a more mature theme, with the confidence that they were emotionally ready for this kind of content. I know I was deeply affected by the story, to the point where I even wrote an email (with dial up, so I had to put some effort in) to Melvin Burgess asking about the fate of Lily, Tar and Gemma. I got a reply too. I read it pretty much every year up until I was 18. So thank you, Melvin Burgess. I owe you a lot.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca H.

    Two kids, Tar and Gemma, run away from home. Tar runs escape being beaten, Gemma to have freedom she desires. While on the run, They meet other people "on the run". These people introduce them to drugs. From there they all spiral out of control. They try to get clean but they begin to realize that it is alot harder then they ever could have imagined. The question becomes, will they ever be able to get their lives back on track or will their addiction lead them to their death? Two kids, Tar and Gemma, run away from home. Tar runs escape being beaten, Gemma to have freedom she desires. While on the run, They meet other people "on the run". These people introduce them to drugs. From there they all spiral out of control. They try to get clean but they begin to realize that it is alot harder then they ever could have imagined. The question becomes, will they ever be able to get their lives back on track or will their addiction lead them to their death?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tacy

    i love this book...its about these two teens that run away. the boy named Tar ran away first because his dad beats him, and his girlfriend Gemma decides to run away because she cant stand her family....they get addicted to heroine and a lot of really crazy stuff happens.....

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aaliyah Mangum

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Smack by Melvin Burgess is a well written book. It touches on the issue of teens, drugs and abuse. This story in particular focuses on two teens named Tar and Gemma who live in England. Tar experienced abuse at home from his father. His mother was an alcoholic and he spent most of his time trying to cover up for her. He eventually gets into a big fight with his father who beats him over chores. That then fuels him to runaway. Gemma lived at home with both her mother and father. They are very pr Smack by Melvin Burgess is a well written book. It touches on the issue of teens, drugs and abuse. This story in particular focuses on two teens named Tar and Gemma who live in England. Tar experienced abuse at home from his father. His mother was an alcoholic and he spent most of his time trying to cover up for her. He eventually gets into a big fight with his father who beats him over chores. That then fuels him to runaway. Gemma lived at home with both her mother and father. They are very protective and only want the best for her. Gemma on the other hand is rebellious and knows her parents are loving but she plans to runaway with Tar too. Tar runs away first to Bristol. He ends up meeting a man named Richard who is a tobacconist. Richard and his friends break into abandoned houses and squat them. Squatting is the practice of living in abandoned or unoccupied spaces that a squatter does not legally own. Tar begins to feel comfortable and believes that Gemma will fit right in with the house. The other people in the house feel otherwise because she is young and her parents are loving so coming there wouldn’t benefit her since she has no real problems. In the house, they are introduced to marijuana for the first time. That then leads to other complications. Gemma finally makes it to Bristol and she seems to fit in. While living in this home, she loses her virginity to Tar. After a couple of nights, she begins to change the way she looks for Tar with the money she took from her father when she left home. She ends up going to a club to have fun but when it came for the time to go, she didn’t want to. Luckily Tar persuaded her to leave with him and not some random guy she danced with that night. The housemates decided that they should throw a housewarming party. They invited some of their friends and two of them just so happened to be name Lily and Rob. Gemma begins to get close to Lily because she likes her sense of freedom and her ability to not care. They both end up persuading Tar and Gemma to stay with them at their home. While Gemma and Tar are staying with Lily and Rob, they introduce them to heroin. They begin to smoke so much that they become addicted to it. Eventually they end up being joined by a friend named Sally, who is also a heroin adjust addict. Lilly ends up finding out that she is pregnant and then decides that it would be a good idea for them all to completely stop. That doesn’t happen and so Lily continues to use while pregnant. Once they become low on the money to buy heroin, the girls turn to prostitution at a massage parlor to help them buy heroin. Tar ends up getting sent to rehab, to end up using again. The next time he gets caught with Gemma and then he is sent to prison. Gemma ends up finding out she is pregnant. She is persuaded by Vonny to go home and take care of the baby with her parents. Once she is home, she is drug free and has little trust in Tar to be around the baby if he is still using. He soon quits and is able to see their daughter and be with Gemma every now and then. I recommend this book to other because it is very interesting and deals with real life problems. It teaches you about teen drug abuse and the affect it could have on your life. A lot of teens deal with abuse at home or struggle to gain freedom when living under strict parents. This book I would say definitely shows how other teens cope with that pain. Running away is not the best answer but getting help or just simply talking to your parents or some adult could help guide you in a good direction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Cuypers

    Original review I don’t think Junk is powerful. Okay, it gives us the reality of being a junk and what the consequences are, but I don’t think the story is that great. There were many times that the characters were so annoying and were talking about things that weren’t even important. BUT it did affect me, even though it was in a negative way. In the beginning and in the middle of the book, when they didn’t talk about the negative parts of all the drugs, I felt the urge to do it myself. I felt t Original review I don’t think Junk is powerful. Okay, it gives us the reality of being a junk and what the consequences are, but I don’t think the story is that great. There were many times that the characters were so annoying and were talking about things that weren’t even important. BUT it did affect me, even though it was in a negative way. In the beginning and in the middle of the book, when they didn’t talk about the negative parts of all the drugs, I felt the urge to do it myself. I felt the urge to run away, smoke some pot and get high. I don’t know why, but the feeling was there. About the characters, we get to know the most about Gemma and Tar, but because of the multiple perspective we get to know things about Rob, Lily, Richard, Vonny, Gemma’s mom and Tar’s dad. I would’ve liked the book more if it was just Gemma and Tar. Some of the chapters, for example, when Richard was talking, weren’t even necessary. It hadn’t any important information about the book, just some random information. Also the characters were annoying. For example Tar, he kept being pathetic and when he was on drugs, he was a jerk. And Lily, she was just insane, who nurses her baby while injecting smack in your breasts?! That’s not human! But besides the fact that the characters annoyed me, they were so real. These days addicts like them exist and it’s getting worse. The book gives you a glimpse of their world, who they are, how they act, how serious this all is. That’s something I liked, it’s not fake it’s realistic. And there was also one thing I really liked, something Gemma said: “Maybe you think your mum and dad love you but if you do the wrong things they’ll try and turn you into dirt, just like mine tried to turn me into dirt. It’s your punishment for being you. Don’t play their game. Nothing can touch you; you stay beautiful.” I loved this quote because sometimes, when my parents are angry at me, I often think like that. That my parents want me to be like they want me to, and not myself. Do I think YAs will devour this book? Maybe. It depends. If you’re not that into reading and you’re reading this book, you’ll like it. But if you’re into reading, you’ll see the errors (annoying characters, unnecessary chapters/p.o.v1,…) and there’s the possibility that you won’t like this book, or think it’s not that great. Overall I think this book was okay, I liked the plot and if the characters were a little different and the p.o.v. too, I would’ve liked it more. Something I want to mention is the cover. I’ve borrowed a copy with just a white background and a syringe, but you also have a cover with a dandelion, which, I think, suits better. You still have the syringe which refers to their junkie life and you have the dandelion which refers to the love between Gemma and Tar. I think the cover with the dandelion suits the book better than the one with the white background and syringe. “She wrote, 'Dandelion, I love you.' And I thought that was magic. It's not in you, it's between you. It's bigger and stronger than you are”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Chatfield

    Gemma and Tar, both young, both naive and both through with living with their abusive, strict parents. David or "Tar" a nickname given to him by his friends is the first to run away, and who else to bring along than his love of his life Gemma. Both innocent at the time find themselves living on the streets struggling until a couple of people befriend them leading them into the life of drugs and crime. Not so long after meeting these new group of friends, drugs are introduced and so is stealing. Gemma and Tar, both young, both naive and both through with living with their abusive, strict parents. David or "Tar" a nickname given to him by his friends is the first to run away, and who else to bring along than his love of his life Gemma. Both innocent at the time find themselves living on the streets struggling until a couple of people befriend them leading them into the life of drugs and crime. Not so long after meeting these new group of friends, drugs are introduced and so is stealing. The drug of choose: Heroin. Cheaper than most and one of the most powerful, powerful enough to make them forget and be happy but the fight to get it is constant. After just about everything that could be thrown at them, death, overdose and pregnancy, those who are left from the group make decision that in the end saved all of them, the decision to get clean. Overall this book was kind of strange. Considering that not only the kids were so young and fearless but that the whole book was written with british humor. Because the humor in it was none that I have heard before it was a little confusing and annoying. I kept having to refer to the back of the book where every british word is explained and then going back to the story to try and understand the sentence. Besides the humor, the overall story line of in a way strange and also interesting. It seems like I have read this book before though, just the overall picture that some kids ran away and discovered a life of drugs and crime, it seems like I read a lot of these books but I did enjoy that fact that each chapter in the book was told by a different character each time so you were able to view each scene from a different persons eyes. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this book for everyone but it wasn't the worst book out there!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Reads Books

    I read this book when I was 15 and it made me super emotional. I think it tells an amazing story of drug addiction and how sometimes it truly is a slippery slope. Amazing writing, but i absolutely HATE gemma. Tar ran away because his father was abusing him and gemma ran away because she thought it would be fun, but even that is forgivable. What is unforgivable for me is that after all is said and done, (view spoiler)[ Gemma gets Tar hooked on heroin, gets herself knocked up and decides "now that I read this book when I was 15 and it made me super emotional. I think it tells an amazing story of drug addiction and how sometimes it truly is a slippery slope. Amazing writing, but i absolutely HATE gemma. Tar ran away because his father was abusing him and gemma ran away because she thought it would be fun, but even that is forgivable. What is unforgivable for me is that after all is said and done, (view spoiler)[ Gemma gets Tar hooked on heroin, gets herself knocked up and decides "now that i'm pregnant and about to have a child that could be addicted to heroin if i'm still on it when she's breastfeeding, i need to stop" which actually isn't bad reasoning, well done to her for making one good decision in her life. However with this decision she makes (she's lucky the baby is Tar's with the choices she made to fund her drug habit) she effectively re-ruins Tar's life as suddenly says, actually i don't want to be homeless anymore and i don't want to do drugs anymore. That's nice, it's a shame she couldn't make this decision before she RUINED EVERYONES LIFE. Tar is left addicted to heroin, and Gemma gets the nice middle class life with the added bonus of a baby. (hide spoiler)] It's very rare that i actively DESPISE a female character as i (hopefully) recognise that men are just as flawed as women and vice versa because we are all human but I feel like Gemma never takes responsibility for her actions, even when taking redemptive measures

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