I’ve just finished reading “Junk” by Melvin Burgess. I knew about this book when i was younger but for some reason i never read it. Since meeting Melvin during my Publishing degree and hearing him talk about his books, i decided that maybe i would try to read one of them.
In the book’s blurb it says:
“Tar and Gemma are in love. Tar has reasons for running away from home that run deep and sour, whereas Gemma, with her middle-class roots firmly on show, has a deep-rooted lust for adventure. Together they explore the dark world of the streets as, together, they explore the dark world of drugs, moving quickly on from the first hit of heroin that takes them towards bliss, to the next hit that ultimately leads to despair.”
It isn’t a book to be taken lightly: it explores some very important issues in a way that seems reasonable and realistic. It doesn’t glamorise the use of drugs or running away from home, it just shows how it feels to experience these and the good and bad sides to it.
I like how we get different chapters from different characters, this way we find out how issues affect different people and how they react. It’s good to have a wider range of viewpoints so that it isn’t focused on just those taking drugs.
We have Gemma and Tar as the two teens who run away from home and end up taking drugs and then trying to come off them. Then we have the ones who introduce them to drugs, Lily and Rob, and the other friends like Sal and Dev and so on. Then we have those who don’t do drugs, Vonny and Richard. Then, quite surprisingly i thought, we get a glimpse into the thoughts of Gemma’s mother and Tar’s father right at the end of the book, which gives an outsider’s view of events. When you only get to see from the drug user’s viewpoint, you get a very biased view of others, especially the parents. I thought the parents seemed a lot more human when we got their version of events, especially after all the negative comments about them from the others throughout the book!
I can’t say i felt comfortable reading about drug use, having been brought up knowing that drug use causes all sorts of problems, but i feel i understand more now what drug addicts go through and why they do it. I wish i’d read it earlier!
I give this book 8/10 because it is realistic and gritty, and it covers a lot of issues which people maybe don’t want to discuss so much, so this book is great for getting them out in the open, even though it may seem a bit controversial. I highly recommend “Junk”!