Maria Grazia's Reviews > Urban Grimshaw and The Shed Crew

Urban Grimshaw and The Shed Crew by Bernard Hare
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2014, autobiography, social-themes

Leeds in the 1990s is the setting for this story. Chop is an ex social worker who dropped his job and retreated in a world of drinking and drugs, living at the margins of society. It is in those unfortunate situation that he meets Urban and the Shed Crew, a gang of feral kids who live stealing or as young prostitutes.
One day Chop saves young Urban’s life and since then they become almost inseparabile, and Chop becomes the only adult member of the Shed Crew. Urban is twelve, his mother a drug-addict whom Chop has had an affair with in the past - or more probably has shared some drug-taking occasions with. His sympathy for Urban, 12 years old, is immediate. Chop’s house becomes a sort of emergency service for those lost kids, he helps them as he can in his own wrecked situation listening to them, making them write or draw or play chess in his house or simply giving them refuge when they need one. All that make Chop a role model to them and that forces him to be one, which involves drinking less and giving up drugs eventually.
All the characters in the book are real people. At the end of the book we are informed that some of the Crew are doing well now that they are grown-up but some others are still in trouble. After writing the book, Bernard Hare’s life changed and he decided to adopt Urban Grishaw. All well that ends well.
This book was a real punch in the stomach, eye-opening, informative, heartbreaking, thought - provoking but at the same time extremely funny, something like watching a serious damnation-of-British-society documentary, focusing on degraded urban areas in big cities, but with an ironical narrating voice and the insertion of comical anecdotes here and there. It’s not a book you can read without being disturbed or left puzzled, of course, but you will find yourself smiling more often than you expect.
It is a book through which you learn that a non-judgemental attitude, an open mind and an open heart can do miracles with young people, troubled or not troubled. This is what Bernard Hare understood and why he was accepted by the crew and could help those young people. Not all of them, but at least some. He didn’t know what he had let himself in when he decided to join the gang and do something for those kids but, certainly, something Bernard Hare did for himself too: his generosity saved also his own life giving to it a completely different turn.
(Read my post at FLY HIGH! http://flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspo...)
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Reading Progress

March 23, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 23, 2014 – Shelved
May 2, 2014 – Shelved as: read-in-2014
Started Reading
June 16, 2014 – Shelved as: autobiography
June 16, 2014 – Shelved as: social-themes
June 16, 2014 – Finished Reading

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