Abide With Me
Caffeine Nights Publishing
John is a streetwise young boy who lives for football. Kenny is a cold and seemingly unreachable boy who is intellectually impaired. The story starts in 1975 in the heart of London's East End. Times are hard for everyone; but football has a way of bringing the masses together. While celebrating a Hammer's football game on television, John sees his neighbor Kenny come out of his house after getting a beating of a different kind. He is compelled to reach out to Kenny. Even though he gets no response from him, it is the start of a strange and unusual friendship between the two. Because of Kenny's unusual behavior and appearance, he is the brunt of jokes and is constantly bullied by his peers. John, for whatever reason, takes it upon himself to protect the boy.
Life is hard at times for John especially when his dad loses his job. Even so, his mom manages to save enough money to buy John and his dad tickets to a Hammer's game. What starts out as a celebration and some real bonding time between father and son, turns into a life changing event for John. As time goes on, John is adrift and gets himself in trouble that results in him being jailed. While incarcerated, John is brutalized. The notorious gangster, Ronnie Swordfish, makes amends for him. No one should get connected with Ronnie Swordfish, no one. Not unless he plans on paying back in full with interest.
This is a debut novel for the author and I have to tell you a fantastic book it is. It is written in a first person through the eyes of John in an East End Vernacular. I am not a fan of first person but in this novel it works beautifully. John has a gutter mouth but believe it or not, it works also. Despite John's mouth and his verbal attitude, he is deep down a kind and caring person. No one can ever say he doesn't love his family. He also cares for his neighbor Kenny. Even though he has issues with Kenny and the fact that Kenny is distant and non speaking, he is more of a friend to Kenny then John's so called friends are to John.
I had the impression from what I had read before starting the book, I was embarking on a story of football. Now, if you know me, football ranks at the bottom of my list. I did not find football to be a central theme of this story much to my satisfaction. Football was just a part of who John is. I found it to be a story of love, friendship, choices, and hope. A story of two unlikely boys turning into men when the world around them casts nothing but darkness. If you enjoy a fast paced story that tells it like it is, you will definitely love this book. Be open minded with the language and the vernacular, it opens your eyes to what the story truly is.
I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any way except for receiving the book to review.
I give Abide With Me 5 out of 5 stars