Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy
|Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A powerful story of filial love when domestic violence gets in the way. An unforgettable central character and a truthful ending make for a truly impactful read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: April 2018|
It was the day the clocks went back. That's when I decided to kill him.
I is fourteen-year-old Danny. Him is Danny's stepfather Callum. Up until a year ago, it was just Danny and Mam. They lived in a damp, cold council flat and didn't have much money to spare, but things were pretty good. Danny and his Mam got on well, they saw a lot of their lovely extended family, and Danny not only had mates but even a girlfriend, Amy. But a lot has changed. They're now living in Callum's posh house and Danny gets holidays and plenty of Christmas presents. Great, right?
Well, no. Because Callum bullies Mam. And he hits her. And she's drinking more. And she's avoiding her family and friends. And she ignores Danny when he looks up websites about domestic violence and tries to show them to her. She even gets engaged to FB -fat bastard, Danny's nickname for Callum.
If you were fourteen, what would you do? Danny decides to take matters into his own hands and go in search of the father he has never met, in the hopes of persuading him to get rid of FB once and for all.
Oh, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me was such a lovely story. I loved Danny, who is a lovely boy with a vivid energy and voice but who is too young and ill-equipped to be dealing with this kind of family situation alone. He makes plenty of mistakes on his quest to save his mother but he does plenty right, too.
Here's the thing. You can't write a story about extreme domestic violence and stick on a fairy tale happy ending at the finish. Life is dirty and messy and leaves loose ends all over the place, particularly where trauma is involved. But people can - and do - make it out to a better place. The best thing for me about Me Mam. Me Dad. Me is that it ends so realistically. There is resolution but it's not a fairy tale. There are consequences and prices to pay and messy loose ends. But there is resolution and that resolution provides a foundation on which to build again. Malcolm Duffy has navigated a difficult but necessary topic for middle grade and teen readers with great care and sensitivity but also a lot of honesty. It's genuinely praiseworthy.
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me would make a great classroom read. It's illuminating but it's also touching and relatable. Danny is a fabulous central character whose determination and loyalty will tug your heart strings and his longing to help his mother far outstrips some of the mistakes he makes along the way. Duffy's straightforward, punchy writing style and choice of Geordie vernacular for Danny's voice gets straight to the heart of the important story he is telling but also manages to find some hope and humour along the way.
I really enjoyed this one and recommend it to all thoughtful readers. If Danny ever needs an extra hug, he can come and get one from me.
Anne Cassidy's Hidden Child also looks at themes of spousal domestic violence, this time inside a tense psychological mystery. And the fabulous More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer looks at the type of familial violence that is turned upon children. It's a powerful read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.