As the November box hits doormats around the world I wanted to talk about a book I included as one of the 'runner up' Kickstarter rewards. I went back and forth on this title so many times but in the end I decided that it was just a little too explicit (sex and drug use) for the first box. However this book stayed on my mind for a really long time after I read it and eventually I felt like I just had to share the story with you, so I hope those who've received it enjoy it!
Although I've tried to keep spoilers to a minimum this post may contain some so if you're avoiding them feel free to stop reading now and come back once you've read the book!
The Busker is set in three cities over the course of two years and follows up and coming singer/songwriter Rab Dillon as he's poised to become the next big thing in music. When the book opens Rab is living on the streets of Brighton, and the book jumps back and forth between his present and his past.
A lot of the subject matter is very gloomy but I really loved the way the story was told. For me it was really a story about how easy it is to make mistakes, especially when you're young, and how difficult an industry to work in music can be. I also took from it a lot about the importance of motivating yourself to make the best of your situation, and although Rab isn't an instantly lovable character I found myself really warming to him throughout the story.
Throughout the novel he laments the collapse of his first real relationship and we get to find out what really happened with the enigmatic Maddie (not always the same as what he thinks happened!). It's easy to forget how young Rab really is because from where the narration of the story begins he has been through a lot, and the experience of all that - particularly of sleeping rough - has given him more maturity than you'd expect from someone of his age. Because the novel pretty much hangs around him (there are other characters but they often seem to be there just so Rab can tell us what they did or how he reacted to them in a certain situation) his character development is key and it's very well done.
In the earlier parts of the novel, when Rab is in Glasgow being managed by his friend Ewan he's ridiculously self-centred and idealistic but The Busker really is the definition of a coming of age story, if not in quite the sense the phrase is usually meant. As the story progresses he (and the reader) realises a lot about how things really happened as opposed to what he thought was going on at the time, and he develops a lot more self awareness by the time the story ends.
I found it very refreshing to read about a character that I had to take time to understand rather than just one the author was trying to make me like, and I'm really interested to read Liam Murray Bell's first book, So It Is.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book - feel free to share them in the comments or get in touch on social media.