Michael Jarvie's Reviews > Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns

Lowborn by Kerry Hudson
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really liked it

Not having read Kerry Hudson’s two earlier books (“Tony Hogan” and “Thirst”) this memoir represents my introduction to her writing, so I’m not in any way qualified to pronounce on whether this work is a re-hash of “Tony Hogan” as one reviewer has suggested.

All in all I found “Lowborn” an engrossing and, at times, moving account. Given that my father’s family originate in Scotland I could relate to that specific background, as I could to the North East locations – North Shields and Hetton-le-Hole. In addition, having been unemployed myself during a large part of the 1980s I also have first-hand experience of what it’s like to eke out a living on the margins of society.

Perhaps the only issue I have is with the book’s structure, which is somewhat disjointed as it zig-zags about, not only in terms of geographical locations but also from one time period to another.

No doubt some readers will suggest that this mirrors the chaotic nature of the odyssey itself, but it’s not an argument that I would defend with any degree of conviction.

Moreover, I did feel that some of the present day material included some particularly awkward interactions. At times Kerry became a kind of poverty tourist, slumming it only for a short while, amongst people who viewed her with more than a degree of suspicion in terms of her motives.

The obvious solution would have been to write the memoir as a separate work and then produce a follow-up set in the present, which looked at what, if anything, had changed in the intervening twenty-odd years. Maybe the only way to write such a sequel would be to live in those very same streets, either subsisting on benefits or working a zero hour contract job.

To reiterate, despite these minor caveats, this is a timely book that I have no hesitation in recommending to the discerning reader.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 22, 2019 – Shelved
June 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

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