Tony Hogan bought me an ice-cream float before he stole my ma by Kerry Hudson

22:00

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A review copy was provided by Penguin in return for an honest review

Ill admit that it was the title that originally drew me to this book. It's gutsy but it fits the story so well. Nothing about the story is rose tinted. This is real life, and it ain't pretty.

When the first words you here in life are " Get out, you cunting, shitting, little fucking fucker!" you just know you're not going to have it easy. The world in not prepared for Janie and and Janie is not ready for the world but what it is what it is. You just gotta live with it.

Janies life is a cycle of poverty, abuse and eviction. She is dragged up rather than brought up with a string of unsuitable men whom Iris tries to pass off as father type figures. She is so desperate for some sort of male presence in life that she endures tirades of mental and physical abuse from the ice-cream float buying Tony Hogan. 

For most of her young life her mother relies on state benefits. This leaves them at the mercy of bleak dingy social housing and an often empty fridge. Jobs were thin on the ground and as a result so were the basic necessities such as food and warmth.  As Iris spirals in to a depression it's left to Janie to care for herself and her sister Tiny. The reader is always left hoping that things get better with each move. Each time they load their meagre belongings into some tin can car I could only hope that things were looking up .

However as Janie begins to grow it's clear that the events she has witnessed in her life have taken their tole on her. She becomes self destructive in an attempt to find her own way in life. Determined as she is not to end up like her ma, her drinking sees her fall into her own downward spiral.

On the outside the book may seem a little repetitive but this was an effective way to portray how poverty can lock you into a cycle of despair and self loathing. 

It's a fantastic debut novel which will keep you rooting for Janie long after the last page. I'm looking forward to see what Kerry Hudson comes up with next.

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