Reviews, Scottish Reads

Young Mungo

Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later 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 try 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 the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022. I preordered it at the start of the year and have been counting down until it was released. When I received this book I tried so hard to take my time reading it, to savour it. I managed for a couple of days but by the time I reached halfway, I just could not put it down and devoured it. I absolutely loved this book! It was definitely a 5 star read.

I utterly adored wee Mungo. He was just a kind hearted and lovely kid. He just wanted to have his family be happy. James was another lovely kid. He was so gentle and patient with his pigeons. I really liked Mungo’s sister and I really felt for her. I also had a lot of love for Mungo’s lovely neighbours, just the lovely ones. They were like an extra family.

The love between Mungo and James was so pure and gentle. It really felt like first love. I read this book just waiting for bad times to happen because these two boys were from different communities that regularly fought each other.

I did enjoy the two different stories throughout the book- the romance and the fishing trip. It was enjoyable reading the events that led to him being on the trip.

My heart broke so many times while reading this book. There were so many points where the book was just so utterly heartbreaking. I genuinely sobbed so hard that I struggled to read the last few chapters through my tears. Yet I didn’t want to stop reading and go and get a tissue, so I just read through the sobbing.

This book covered so many hard and upsetting topics which included alcoholism, poverty, abuse, homophobia, violence. However, the book wasn’t a depressing read. Throughout the darkness there were moments of hope. While I was a broken human reading this book, I did feel like there was still some potential for joy.

This was such a beautifully written and emotional read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am so happy that I let myself just devour it because I couldn’t wait. I wanted to know what happened to Mungo and James.

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