Book Review: Feral Youth (Polly Courtney)
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Set in the lead up to the London Riots in 2011, Feral Youth tells the story of 15-year-old Peckham girl Alesha – the so-called ‘poster child’ for a generation of teenagers whose lives are often hidden from view, whilst still being the of cause much handwringing/berating in the right wing press. Talk of society, politics and ‘disenfranchisement’ is not something that touches Alesha’s life, however. After escaping from a childhood with an abusive, drug-addicted mother, and then being forced to leave the flat that she shared with an old friend, his grandmother and a dog named GBH, she’s more concerned with having somewhere to sleep at night, and finding something to eat that day, and not being attacked. The sixth novel from Polly Courtney was written with the hope of opening people’s minds – questioning the reasons behind the riots, rather than simply maligning those that were involved. Before reading Feral Youth, I was worried that the story told would be a vain attempt to see the world from ‘Alesha’s’ perspective, and that this would come across as patronising - especially when I hit on the explanatory glossary that prefigures the first chapter.
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