Today as part of our Year of Orenda celebrations, I’m handing over to Mandie to share her thoughts on Breakers by Doug Johnstone. The story is both gripping and moving in equal measure, and if you want to know what I thought about the book, you can find my review here. To find out what the book is about, and why it has received so much praise, including being shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize in 2019, read on:
About the Book
There are two sides to every family…Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.
On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.
With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.
I have heard so many great things about this book that it has been on my TBR pile for a while. The question is did it live up to my expectations… yes it did and then some.
Tyler is seventeen and trying hard to look after his little sister when their mother is unable to but is also being dragged into breaking and entering houses in the more affluent areas of Edinburgh by his half-brother Barry and his sister Kelly. Needless to say, things go wrong, and Tyler’s already chaotic life gets a whole lot worse. Harassed by the police and his family, Tyler will find his loyalties tested at every turn.
Breakers is not just a book about a family on the wrong side of the tracks and the law, Doug Johnstone also delves into the relationships between the characters. You can’t help but warm to Tyler, his actions are often as a reaction to his older sibling and his overarching need to protect his sister and make life as normal as possible for her. Even his interactions with his mother are from a place of love. Despite her drug and alcohol addiction Tyler does everything he can to make sure that she survives each day and keep them together as a family unit and under the radar of social services.
The blossoming friendship between Tyler and Flick whose backgrounds could not be more different was really endearing and was often one of the brighter parts of his life. It is through their friendship that you learn more about their backgrounds and that behind it all are two kids who on the surface have vastly different lives but really are both dealing with things that make them not so different after all. This book is dark and shows the realities of crime and drugs, but it is also very compelling. As much as I hated Barry and Kelly and their very twisted relationship, this too was a product of their childhood.
At times, the action was brutal but the more I read the more I was drawn in, hoping that for Tyler and Bethany there would be a way out of it all. Showing the good and the bad of society this is one book you should definitely pick up and read.
About the Author
Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player- manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.
Books by Doug Johnstone: