In 1980s Glasgow, much abandons Hugh “Shuggie” Bain’s mother: her charming, abusive husband; the elder two of her three children, who choose to save themselves as she descends further into alcoholism; her dream of owning a house with a front door. In this heartbreaking debut novel by Douglas Stuart—the only 2020 book that was both shortlisted for the Booker Prize and a National Book Award finalist—Shuggie is left to look after her as she continues to descend into tragedy. But Shuggie himself is struggling as he attempts to make sense of his sexuality and to determine his own lot in life as everyone around him suspects he is “no right.” Together, their story provides a beautiful portrait of how the Scottish working class persevered through the scarcity of Thatcherism—imperfections be damned—with an abundance of love.
The 100 Must-Read Books of 2020
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