Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart


It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life, dreaming of greater things. But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and as she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different, he is clearly no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.


I was really looking forward to reading this book after seeing so many raving reviews, it winning the booker prize and a few friends recommending it time and time again.

I finally picked It up after I put it in my 22 for 2022 stack and unfortunately I didn’t love it.

It was dark, gritty and tricky to read. It was centred there’s around the harsh reality of that time and focused a lot on Agnes (The Mum). If I’m honest I was expecting alot more from Shuggie and of his story. I felt like there wasn’t really much character development, especially for a 400+ page book.

I had a difficult time connecting and most of the book felt a little disjointed and very repetitive for me. I had a hard time wanting to pick it back up again.

I am glad I saw it out though as the last 100 or so pages were great and I wished the rest of the book had had more of this… Although I did feel the ending was a little abrupt for me and I didn’t get any sense of closure.

I know I’m in the minority here but I’m rating this one a 2/5 but I sincerely hope that you enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to have.


  1. I finished reading this book two days ago. There were times when I wanted to call it quits because I couldn’t take the unrelenting desperation. If I could have jumped into the pages, I would have grabbed Agnes and given her a good shake – what a totally unsymphatetic character she is. I didn’t see any resolution at the end, unless I missed something. You’ve probably gathered that, like you, I did not love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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