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Junk (1996)

de Melvin Burgess

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1,3752710,198 (3.52)43
After running away from their troubled homes, two English teenagers move in with a group of squatters in the port city of Bristol and try to find ways to support their growing addiction to heroin.
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This book is set in Bristol mid 1980s
Main characters are Tar and Gemma two loved up young runaways.
The end up in Bristol squatting they meet some dubious characters along the way.
Gradually they become addicted to Heroin this is the story of how they gradually overcome their addiction and how they try to get their lives back on track.
Not a cheery book but worth a read.
I read this book about 20 years ago 1st time I have ever re read a book. ( )
  Daftboy1 | Feb 28, 2021 |
Harrowing tale of two young adults Tar and Gemma and the paths in their lives that intertwine and lead them to eventually start taking Junk or Heroin. I'm not sure that this is a cautionary tale as such as neither pays the highest price for their addiction but it does demonstrate how easy it is to move from smoking to cannabis to heroin when surrounded by a certain type of people. Also looks at alcoholism, homelessness, prostitution and single parent families, squatting and petty crime such as shoplifting that all go hand in hand with the lower edges of life. Each chapter has a different person's perspective and it isn't always the main character Tar and Gemma's opinion; it is often that of others watching them spiral down or their "friends" who do drugs and how they became involved. A this book is set in the UK, I am not sure how similar a life would be lived by an addict here in Australia but no doubt the filthy squats, the crime and the low quality of life would have comparisons. It would be interesting to compare Stone Girl ( which I hated) to this book ( which I disliked) . ( )
  nicsreads | Oct 6, 2020 |
This story had me enthralled from beginning to end. The excitement at the punk music concerts, the young love, the freedom, the manipulating entrapment of drugs, the heartbreaking love of a baby and the way having a child can completely change you. A

A gritty, raw, powerful, emotional roller coaster worth the ride. You'll be angry, you'll laugh, and you'll cry. Burgess doesn't sugar coat anything. I love the realness he portrays of how impressionable and naive teens can be no matter what background you come from or what scene you're in. That no matter what it only takes seconds for your life to spiral out of control. By the end of the book I wanted so badly to sew their lives back together.

As much as parents were outraged that this book was in my school library I think this book catapulted my revulsion of how heroin can ruin lives. Still to this day I've never touched the stuff, beyond that the characters are almost all junkies it's a story about finding out who you really are and accepting it or changing it for the better.

Two points of view in first person: Gemma and Tar. Tar is a runaway from an abusive alcoholic father, a loving street kid with something worth running from. Gemma your typical spoiled brat runaway, nothing really worth running from just looking for rebellion. I loved and hated her character at the same time. The first couple chapters made me want to slap her mouth off and tell her to grow up. Along the way they meet vegan anarchists and all end up squatting in an abandoned house in Bristol. At a big party at the squat they meet a couple who introduce them to smoking heroin, the two young punks think smoking it won't get them addicted but they couldn't be more wrong. Doing whatever means to get their fix.(prostitution, stealing) After attempts to get clean, going cold turkey, failing, and getting caught. Tar takes the blame and goes to prison. Gemma, now pregnant with Tars baby, moves back in with her parents to remain clean. The heart wrenching part in all this to me? She dosent trust tar to stay clean, for almost 4 years. Eventually after release from prison and getting clean from methadone he visits his daughter. ( )
  Jychelle88 | Oct 16, 2017 |
I cannot remember the last time I disliked a book as much as this one, but I could not stop reading it. I did not like one character in the book. I don't think I was supposed to like them, but it would have been nice for at least one of them to have something that made me care about him or her. ( )
  mtlkch | Jun 21, 2016 |
Gingerbread, Can Steffie Come out to Play, and Go Ask Alice. If you loved any of these novels containing painfully obnoxious teens who mess up their lives, than you'll love Smack. This would be dangerously promoting drugs if the reader doesn't finish the novel, as the narrators glorify the drugs while they're still enjoying them. A teen picking up the novel, glancing through, or merely not finishing it would be facing the same consequences as all the kids who learned how to purge their meals from the confessions of teens with eating disorders on Oprah. However, keep reading, and you're as excited about doing heroine as you were after watching "Trainspotting" (which forever connected the image of smack in my mind with dead, blue infants).

Burgess eerily captures the rational teens use to justify stupid choices so accurately, that it was embarrassing to remember that I was just like that at one time. Teens don't just decide one day that they're going to be a junkie and a prostitute because that's a great career choice, but rather experience a slow decline that seems perfectly rational and even idealistic; it's scary. For the record, I've never been a junkie or a prostitute, but the voice of the female characters was so familiar that I've left this novel thinking that I avoided that fate merely by the luck of the draw. Had I been in the wrong place at the wrong time, who knows? And that is pretty scary. My favorite line: "The need for self-deception in a situation of dependency is quite staggering." And I don't think this applies only to a dependency on any particular substance: it can be dependency on people, security, situations, a job even. Really got me thinking.

Burgess creates detestable characters who are entirely sympathetic, forcing the reader to consider how fragile and vulnerable we may all be. If a teen were to stick with the novel and finish it, I'd recommend it, but not if they were going to dabble in it without seriousness. I particularly appreciate Burgess's ability to honestly portray disturbing issues without any gore or unnecessary imagery. For example, a girl is brutally sexually assaulted, and the way it was presented, I didn't get physically or emotionally ill by it for a change; I could still grapple with all of the implications of the event without being destroyed (as I was by reading "Kite Runner"). Burgess leaves enough to the imagination but also exposes enough X-rated situations faced by the characters to make it realistic enough (as opposed to Go Ask Alice).

In all, it kept me reading, left me thinking, and overall exposes sad truths in an 80's British Punk scene (which was a delightful treat!). I DID wish that I had known about the glossary of unfamiliar British slang in the back! It would've saved me some time and frustration. I had to read the term "screw" in context over a dozen times to get that it meant a prison guard!



( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Melvin Burgessautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Eccleshare, JuliaIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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A boy and a girl were spending a night together in the back seat of a Volvo estate car.
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This book is alternatively titled Junk or Smack. Both can be combined together.
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

After running away from their troubled homes, two English teenagers move in with a group of squatters in the port city of Bristol and try to find ways to support their growing addiction to heroin.

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Mitjana: (3.52)
0.5
1 15
1.5 2
2 31
2.5 6
3 80
3.5 16
4 88
4.5 7
5 59

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