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Literary Fiction Review – Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Review by Pat D. (pat0814)


Shuggie Bain is abandoned at an early age by his father physically and his mother emotionally.  His father leaves the family due to his wife’s alcoholism, and Shuggie is mostly forgotten during his mother’s frequent alcoholic hazes.  He has an older half brother and half sister, who are a temporary constant until they, too, cannot bear their mother’s lack of interest in their well being and leave Shuggie alone with his mother.  The novel is set in Scotland in a community of abject poverty where miners’ families live after the mine has closed.  There is a pervasive desperation among those who remain, and alcohol is a constant companion, as is physical violence.

Shuggie fails to fit into the rough-and-tumble group of children.  He is visibly effeminate, and an easy target for the bullies at school and in the neighborhood.  A glimpse into Shuggie’s life is heartbreaking.

5 stars



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