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Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

I did not know that I’d be encountering another neglected boy so soon after reading Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver and Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

Like Shuggie, Mungo is a sensitive young boy living among neglect and poverty. His mother is an alcoholic and his brother is the leader of a gang in the brutal area where he lives.

It is with a growing sense of dread that we learn that Shuggie’s mother has agreed to send him on a fishing trip with two men she has met, seemingly to teach him ‘manly’ skills of camping and catching his own food.

In the same way as in Shuggie Bain, Stuart builds tension while also giving the reader hope of a better future.

I can’t really say that I enjoyed this novel as its theme makes that difficult, but it was certainly a heart-rending novel that captured the vulnerability of youth in a harsh environment. And there certainly were moments of light and joy, including Mungo’s sexual awakening and his relationship with his sister.



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