Junk 1996: Melvin Burgess Book Review

Everybody has a few of those books; that even though they’ve read and reread them when when other options are lacking, their comfort reads are no. one go to’s and never get dull even after the pages are worn and most have been folded down and up again. When I moved out of my parents house a number of years ago I had multiple book cases in my bedroom covering the wall in books, they spanned over my windowsill and their would still always be stacks chucked everywhere, unfortunately my first flat definitely did not have the space to cater for even a quarter and I had to cut down from about 400 to maybe 30 or 40. My mum is still trying to flog my old ones at car boot sales and chucking 3 for £1’s left right and centre. Junk is one of those comfort reads.

Junk was written by Melvin Burgess in 1996 (the year I was born) and even though it now stands at 22 years old still feels modern and relevant. The main characters are Tar and Gemma, two lovestruck teens with dreams of moving on from their own experiences of abuse to find something better on the streets of Brighton. The story is an emotional roller coaster of love and sadness and the real effects that drugs has on a persons life and relationships. I love this book because poverty, drugs, homelessness are all topics that are a lot of the time only looked at on a surface level. The tv is stuffed full of poverty porn programmes of drug addicts fighting each other, devastated mothers losing their houses with young children in tow, squatters being evicted in horrendous manners. All of these things are to the detriment of the person involved and for our entertainment which is sick in my opinion. It also completely takes the humanity away from these people. That’s why I love this book. It brings all of that humanity back and gives you an understanding of why people do what they do.

Even though the main characters are Tar and Gemma, the book is saturated in likeable and really complex people and you really find yourself feeling invested in most of the people who are portrayed. Each person has their surface level and as the book progresses you realise they are all facing personal growth and challenges. I don’t think i’ve ever read anything like it.

I would highly recommend this book to anybody looking for a new read. 5/5

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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