Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Young Team

2005. Glasgow is named Europe’s Murder Capital, driven by a violent territorial gang and knife culture. In the housing schemes of adjacent Lanarkshire, Scotland’s former industrial heartland, wee boys become postcode warriors.

2004. Azzy Williams joins the Young Team [YTP]. A brutal gang conflict with their deadly rivals, the Young Toi [YTB] begins.

2012. Azzy dreams of another life. He faces his toughest fight of all – the fight for a different future.

Expect Buckfast. Expect bravado. Expect street philosophy. Expect rave culture. Expect anxiety. Expect addiction. Expect a serious facial injury every six hours. Expect murder.

Hope for a way out.

I had been wanting to read this book for a while and I’m so glad I managed to make time for it. I absolutely devoured this book and gave it 5 shiny stars!

This book was split into multiple sections which covered 3 main periods of Azzy’s life: Joining the gang, becoming an adult, and thinking about the future. The book started with Azzy being a young teenager who had been drawn into gang life. He was only 14 and it was totally expected that he would join a gang. It was so much more than a gang though, it was friendship and found family. His youth involved a lot of drinking, casual drug use, and violence. As he grew up, the violence between Azzy’s gang and the rival gang continued. With Azzy being older he became more involved in the beef between the gangs. The violence and the risks increased. The final part saw Azzy considering their future and what role the gang would take in this.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, they felt so real. I found myself really worrying when the kids went off to fight. I actually spent so much of the book waiting for more bad things to happen. I laughed during parts of this book and I cried too. The protagonist, Azzy, was a flawed character but I liked him. He was a fiercely loyal person but he made some bad choices. I absolutely loved his mum and cousin who just wanted him to be safe.

This book really showed how easily Azzy was swept into gang culture. It felt like a normal thing for him to be part of a gang. The book included facts about gang culture in Scotland which helped to bring the story to life. Gang culture wasn’t something I knew a great deal about and this book really opened my eyes to something that was and is something that is still a huge issue in Scotland. The book also included references to drug culture and how that tied into gang life.

This book was set in Airdrie in the West of Scotland and was written all in the vernacular. You don’t need to be Scottish to be able to enjoy this book as it’s pronounced phonetically. I think that this could make an absolutely amending audiobook!

This book was eye opening and full of violence but it was so much more than that. It was a story about trying to fit in, loyalty and friendship, and growing up. There were some really heartwarming parts of this book and I am so glad that I read this! I highly recommend this book!

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