Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Junk by Melvyn Burgess


Heroin, H, smack, whatever. This book is about junk.

Bristol in the 1980's, and Gemma and Tar are fourteen. Tar is 24 hours away from running away from home, to get away from his abusive dad and alcoholic mum. Gemma, his girlfriend, is all for it- in her opinion, it's the best thing that he could do.

At home for Gemma, things aren't too good either, and after she has a fight with her parents, she decides to run away and join Tar in the city.

In the two weeks since he left, Tar has been introduced to Richard, an anarchist who sets up squats for homeless kids. He's living in an uninhabited building with Vonny, Jerry and Richard, and invited Gemma to come and live with them.

Gemma and Tar are living rough, and they're happy. But Vonny thinks that Gemma is bad for Tar and she wants her to leave. They decide that Gemma will have to find somewhere else to live after the housewarming party that Richard has dewcided to have.

At the party, Gemma meets Lily and Rob. Lily is mad, a completely free spirit, and Rob is her bloke. Gemma and Lily are instantly best friends, and she decides to drop Tar and go and live with them. But they soon get back together and the four of them are all living together, stealing food and belongings and pretty well anything so they can get money.

But the main thing is that Lily and Rob are both on junk, and soon Gemma and Tar are both on it as well. They try to give up, but Gemma is sure that she could stop when she wants to so none of them ever try particularly hard.

Lily and Gemma are both working in a brothel for money for the heroin, and life, in their opinion, is pretty good. They're free.

Soon, Gemma and Tar are seventeen, and Lily is pregnant. She decides that she's going to quit the junk for the sake of the baby, and they all go away to a house in the country. But Rob brings a little stash of junk with him, and two days later they're all back on.

When Lily's baby is born, it's full of smack, because it gets it through the milk. And then Gemma gets pregnant.

She's so horrified by watching Lily and her baby, Sunny, that she decides that she'll do anything to get off the heroin for her baby. She goes to hospital and the police raid their house and Tar goes to jail for drug possession, and Lily and Sunny and Rob are all sent to various rehab centres.

Months pass, and Tar gets out of jail, and Gemma has a baby girl called Oona. But she realises that she doesn't love Tar anymore, she just wants him to go away, and six months later they break up and he moves away, and he hardly sees his baby girl anymore.

They are only eighteen.

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