Friday, 21 March 2014

Shop Front by Samuel Best

Review by The Mole

"Out of university and out of luck, Ben Hamilton moves back in with his parents to stack shelves at the local supermarket. There he meets a group of friends and quickly finds himself dragged into secrecy, heavy drinking, and a violent feud. Trouble flares as the boys test the limits of their own behaviour, small-town mentalities and childhood dreams, before a startling climax as some innocent flirting leads to something much darker. Shop Front is more than the story of an unlucky graduate struggling to find his way: it is a story of violence, working life, friendship and A&E."

I don't normally lift the synopsis of a book from the publisher but decided I would because I couldn't see how I could match it and not give what could be spoilers. Ben takes a job at Asda and meets Pete, Jake and Niall - three very different characters to Ben and yet they become his peers - for better or for worse.

There are many clich├ęs bandied about so many books and one is "compelling". Was Shop Front compelling? I really don't know because I didn't want to put it down to find out!

I have seen people complain about books where characters speak in dialect. Here it works brilliantly and the book would work nothing  like as well without it. It emphasises the difference between Ben and the others while also showing the rough edges around each of the characters and creating stereotypes which may just trip you up.

I am a bit of a coward around violence in books and films and did find the it rather graphic and horrific - but also somehow I felt distanced enough from it to not be repulsed. But don't take it wrongly - the violence was not what this books was about. It was about friendship and it's impermanence, and aspirations and their loss. But in Ben's situation what would you have done? I'm not sure if I know what I would have done.

When I picked this book up I expected to enjoy it (well of course I did, otherwise why pick it up?) but I did not expect to enjoy it as enormously as I did! A brilliant read that will surprise, shock and have you choosing a character to root for - and rooting for them come hell and high water.

Publisher - Fledgling Press
Genre - Adult Fiction

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