Author: Douglas Stuart
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 5 April 2022
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction / LGBT
Source:ARC via NetGalley
Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in the hyper-masculine and violently sectarian world of Glasgow’s housing estates. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they find themselves falling in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo works especially hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.
But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in literary fiction, Douglas Stuart's Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
Young Mungo is a gritty and visceral read that covers some confronting themes. As such, it may not appeal to all readers, so approach with caution if need be. I haven't read Douglas Stuart's previous novel, so I had no expectations going into this work. I did feel my attention waver here and there; some sections of the book kept me riveted, but through others my mind drifted a bit. However, the characters generally came across well, as did the sense of place and time. Young Mungo had some interesting things to say, and I am glad I read it, but I don't see it as a book I would return to for a reread. Once was good, but once was enough. Overall, I am giving this book 3.5 stars, which I will round up to a four.
I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.