Feral Youth

Feral Youth

by Polly Courtney


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Feral Youth by Polly Courtney

The truth is, it ain't just a race thing. They talk like it is, but really and truly it's black against white, young against old, authorities against the rest. It's countless of things. There's bare reasons for feeling vexed right now. Growing up on a south London estate and excluded from every school that would take her, Alesha is the poster girl for the nation's 'feral youth'. When a young teacher makes an unexpected reappearance in the 15-year-old's life, opening the door to a world of salaries, pianos and middle-class housemates, Alesha's instinct is to pull up her hood and return to the streets. But fuelled by a need to survive, she falls into a cycle of crime, violence and drug-dealing, her one true ally deserting her when she needs him most. While everyone around her is rallying against the authorities in a war of haves and have-nots, Alesha finds herself caught in the crossfire, inextricably linked to the people she is trying to fight against. Can she see a way out? And as riots sweep the nation, whose side will she take? Born in South London and a resident of Ealing, an area affected by the London riots, Polly wrote Feral Youth 'to give a voice to the thousands of frustrated youths who, like Alesha, feel marginalised and ignored by the rest of society'. She believes that the real causes of the riots have not gone away and that further unrest will happen in a matter of time. Feral Youth is a work of contemporary adult fiction that covers various topical themes, including the riots, youth culture, gangs and knife and gun crime. It sits alongside Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English and Emma Donoghue's Room in that it is aimed primarily at the adult reader and provides an alternative perspective on a world we think we know.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783060580
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.65(d)

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Feral Youth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Alesha is the classic “feral youth,” and this is her heartbreaking story.  Illiterate, unwanted by her parents, kicked out of every school she attempted to attend, and feeling totally unloved except for her best friend, J.J. who only shows love and care to his elderly grandmother, “Nan.”  Alesha truly believes she has no options.  There’s a whole body of language that’s the Jamaican patois lingo of the gangs in the south end of London and the author supplies a glossary of meaning to those who haven’t a clue what life is like for these youths.  Most will never survive their young adult years; the others will wind up in jail. Their world is one of “survival of the fittest, but Alesha wonders in other words what exactly she’s fit for? This young, 15 year-old girl, earns her money by stealing clothes, delivering dope, cowering in fear to the leaders of gangs who are also at war with each other.  Several times Alesha is the victim of violence, especially when she fails to pay up after one of her drug deliveries goes bad or when she fails to acknowledge that she is owned in reality by those bigger in the criminal hierarchy of the Peckham Crew.  Her closeness to J.J. and earning “p’s” (money) is her whole world and that world is about to undergo a violent transformation. Early on in the story Alesha meets a middle-aged woman and piano teacher, Miss Merfield, who tries to show Alesha she does have options.  Depending on one’s point of view, one might feel deeply for Alesha’s attempts to change her life’s direction or one might perhaps feel quite irritated with her caustic responses in multiple scenes. For her lack of self-respect yields consequences in which she consciously or unconsciously sabotages her own chances for beginning a different lifestyle with reputable employment and education.  Others outside of her gang world certainly haven’t an ounce of sympathy for gang members like Alesha and a sense of empathy is as close as another planet.  For few of us can even imagine this poignant, tragic lifestyle endured on a daily basis! One doesn’t enjoy this story but must acknowledge that it’s a necessary one that needs to be told.  For this astute author deeply believes that the public needs to acquire awareness of just how imprisoned these feral youths are in their own insecurities, fears, and the veneer of toughness.  One realizes how Alesha’s nasty attitude evolves from rejection to deep-seated anger that breaks out after any innocent or flagrant trigger appears.   One senses how sharing her story turns into a gross betrayal beyond words toward the end of the novel and another event will practically shatter her forever. No, it’s not far-fetched; it’s so very real, shocking! This novel was based on the actual 2011 Blackberry London riots.  Polly Courtney, kudos to you for taking on such a huge task of delineating the world of the disenfranchised, of those with no hope and no future.  Whether they succeed or fail, the Miss Merfields of this world deserve even more acclaim for attempting to bring hope to youth who have no basis of believing in anything beyond their criminal and hard-hearted environment!  Words are inadequate to convey the impact of this story that deserves world-wide attention – for it isn’t only England’s problem – it’s ours, wherever we live! Highly recommended.