In the Bag by Jim Carrington

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In the Bag by Jim Carrington

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Joe and Ash find a bag of money in the woods and decide to keep it. This bad decision leads to another bad decision, then another, and before they know it, they're in big trouble. Tense, gritty and accessible, this is a great follow-up to the magnificent Inside My Head.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408802708

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Biking through the woods after a night hanging out with friends at the rec, Joe and Ash see a crashed BMW. A little further on, they find a bag stuffed with wads and wads of cash - £20,000 to be precise. It's too late to take it to the police station and, in any case, they're underage and have been drinking, so they decide to take it home and talk about what to do in the morning. When Joe arrives at Ash's the next day, he discovers that Ash has been having second - and third, and fourth - thoughts about handing the bag in. Who would know? Think of the things they could do with it, buy with it. Joe, less impulsive and more sensible than Ash, isn't so sure. But he allows himself to be talked around.

And this is only the first bad decision the two boys make. They fail to spend sensibly. They fail to keep things secret, but they also fail to tell the people they should tell. And when Ash makes further discoveries - the bag also contains several bags of skunk, a gun, and a mobile phone with a threatening voice on the other end - he even keeps them secret from Joe. Before they know it, Ash and Joe are in big trouble...

With a lifetime of mistakes behind me, I really found In the Bag quite painful to read. It shows so clearly how one bad decision can lead to another, then another, then another, and how easy it is to risk consequences far beyond anything you're capable of dealing with. Joe and Ash end up in real danger and the risks they're running are completely obvious to the reader right from the very first page.

It might well be easy to get in too deep, but it's very difficult to get back out again. It's even more difficult if your life isn't going as well as you'd wish in other areas, and it's here the book really comes into its own. With the uncompromising honesty Jim Carrington gave us in his first book, the super-duper Inside My Head, we see that it's Ash who is the prime mover in making a bad situation worse. And it's Ash whose father is a drunk who's having an affair. It's Ash whose family argue constantly over money. It's Ash who doesn't have anything solid enough to fall back on when things go wrong. Joe has always felt colourless and vanilla next to Ash, but actually he's the lucky one, with his steady parents and supportive home life.

The characters are beautifully drawn and utterly credible. I recognise these boys and so will every reader. The writing is gritty and tense and Carrington doesn't talk around issues such as teen drinking or drug taking. He doesn't glamourise them either. This is another compelling novel from a talented author. Recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Dead Boy Talking by Linda Strachan also shows how just a few bad choices can have terrible consequences, as does The Dirty South by Alex Wheatle.

Buy In the Bag by Jim Carrington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy In the Bag by Jim Carrington at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy In the Bag by Jim Carrington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy In the Bag by Jim Carrington at Amazon.com.


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