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Hello Mum (Quick Reads) [Kindle Edition]

Bernardine Evaristo
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It's a hot summer afternoon. Tension is in the air. A gang of youths on bikes gathers outside a chip shop. A teenage boy is stabbed and left bleeding on the street.

The boy's mother wonders how this could have happened to her son. She is full of questions, but when the answers lie so close to home, are they really what she wants to hear?

Product Description

About the Author

Bernardine Evaristo is the author of four novels, Lara, The Emperor's Babe, Soul Tourists and Blonde Roots, which was chosen as the winner by the inaugural Orange Prize Youth Panel. Evaristo was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004 and the Royal Society of Arts in 2006, and she was awarded an MBE in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List. She lives in London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1232 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034KC3PI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,966 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

British writer Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of seven books including her new novel, Mr Loverman, about a 74 yr old Caribbean London man who is closet homosexual (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2013 & Akashic USA, 2014). Her writing is characterised by experimentation, daring, subversion and challenging the myths of various Afro-diasporic histories and identities. Her books range in genre from poetry, verse-novels, a novel-with-verse, a novella, short stories, prose novels, radio and theatre drama, and literary essays and criticism. Her eighth book will be a collection of her short stories, published by in Italian by Carocci in 2015. The first monograph on her work, Fiction Unbound by Sebnem Toplu, was published in August 2011 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The second will be published by Carocci in 2015.

Her awards include the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, EMMA Best Book Award, Big Red Read, Orange Youth Panel Award, NESTA Fellowship Award and Arts Council Writer's Award. Her books have been a Best Book of the Year 13 times in British newspapers and magazines and The Emperor's Babe was a Times 'Book of the Decade'. Hello Mum has been chosen as one of twenty titles for World Book Night in 2014. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006, and she received an MBE in 2009.

Her books are: MR LOVERMAN (Penguin, 2013), HELLO MUM (Penguin 2010), LARA (Bloodaxe 2009), BlONDE ROOTS (Penguin 2008), SOUL TOURISTS (Penguin 2005), THE EMPEROR'S BABE (Penguin 2001), the first version of LARA (ARP 1997), ISLAND OF ABRAHAM (Peepal Tree, 1994). For more information visit BOOKS. Her verse novel The Emperor's Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was broadcast as a Radio 4 play in 2012. Her writing - essays, articles and non-fiction - has appeared in many publications.

She has edited and guest edited several publications. She is the co-editor of two recent anthologies and a special issue of Wasafiri magazine: Black Britain: Beyond Definition, which celebrated and reevaluated the black writing scene in Britain. In 2012 she was Guest Editor of the winter issue of Poetry Review, Britain's leading poetry journal, in its centenary year. Her issue, Offending Frequencies, featured more poets of colour than had ever previously been published in a single issue of the journal, as well as many female, radical, experimental and outspoken voices.

She is also a literary critic for the national newspapers such as the Guardian and Independent and has judged many literary awards including the National Poetry Competition, TS Eliot Prize, Orange First Novel Award and the Next Generation Poet's List. In 2012 she was Chair of the Caine Prize for African Fiction and Chair of The Commonwealth Short Story Prize. That year she also founded the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. She is Reader in Creative Writing at Brunel University and designed and teaches the anuual six month Guardian¬-University of East Anglia 'How to Tell a Story' fiction course in London.

She has toured widely in the UK and since 1997 she has accepted invitations to take part in over 100 international visits as a writer. She gives readings and delivers talks, keynotes, workshops and courses and she has held visiting fellowships and professorships.

Bernardine Evaristo was born in Woolwich, south east London, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother and Nigerian father. Her father was a welder and local Labour councillor and her mother a schoolteacher. She was educated at Eltham Hill Girls Grammar School, the Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned a PhD in Creative Writing. She spent her teenage years acting at Greenwich Young People's Theatre. She lives in London with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year - easy to read, hard to forget 9 Mar. 2010
This isn't just a great book, it's an important book, too. If that makes it sound "grand", it isn't. Part of the "Quick Reads" publishing initiative, it puts into simple words the truth about inner city knife crime by getting a 14-year-old boy to tell us about it. JJ's street talk is simple, accessible, funny and very authentic. The major achievement of the book is in making us care about a boy whose experiences most of us only hear about through sensational news stories and grim government statistics. A definite "must read".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice for the voiceless 1 Mar. 2010
Bernardine Evaristo's short, gripping novel is written through the consciousness of a young black teenage boy, JJ, living on a tough London estate, brought up by his mum, who does her best but also has his much younger stepsister to look after, little money and no help from his absent father. JJ's love for and dependence on his mother fight against his desire to be cool, to be a man, to make money - though the latter is partly to help his mum. The truth of life under the thumb of the 'Postcode Gangs', teenagers who will fight any other teenagers coming into their area from outside is harrowingly exposed, and it's mostly black-on-black violence. Maybe you just want to go to the shop to get some food, but you CANNOT cross the estate without fear of attack. And that fear makes you want to be strong. And you can't be strong without being in a gang. There is comedy and tragedy in the way JJ is inexorably sucked into the orbit of the drug-dealers. He knows it is a mistake, he wants to get out, he sees that the supposedly 'glamorous' flat of the main man is disgustingly dirty, and thinks about how his mother would hate it...the voice of the child, both humorous and melancholy, fights with the voice of the would-be hard man, and the reader is left hoping to the last page that he will make it out of there, like his clever friend Ade who wants to be an architect. Super ending made the hairs on my arms stand on end and was a genuine surprise. The language and setting feel authentic and this book is recommended reading for any teenager, and particularly any teenager tempted to think gang life is cool.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different voice 23 Aug. 2010
By Alison TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Hello Mum" is written from the perspective of JJ, a 14 year old boy, as he explains to his mother about how he didn't mean to get in with a bad crowd. It challenges the perceptions of youths in gangs and involved in the drug culture as JJ struggles with peer pressure, his own morals and the love he has for his family. I think this book would be a particularly good read for a teenager especially if read with other teenagers and discussed afterwards.

"Quick Reads" are a World Book Day initiative and are designed for either regular readers who want a short and fast read or for those who have not read for a while or find reading difficult. The writing is simple and straight-forward.

Kindle Edition Specifics: Well formatted, indented first line paragraphs, no gaps between paragraphs. There is a linked table of contents allowing click through to each chapter. There are structural markers for the chapters (i.e. if you press the 5-way controller to the right it will skip to the next chapter) but the markers don't display in the progress bar.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
3.5 stars.

I gave this a go after seeing it on the 2014 World Book Night selection. I don't go for Quick Reads and the idea interested me.

A teenager is stabbed, the story a letter to his mum about what happened to put him in that situation. For the intended market, this is probably going to feel authentic. I've read similar plots before, and quite recently, so it's not original particularly. But the Quick Read format hopefully will reach new readers and send a message.

JJ is only 14 but life in London is full of gangs, drugs, knifes and general wariness. He's tried to keep his head down. But eventually the pull of protection and money is too much.

The story is fine, lots of references to current (though what would I know?!) fashion, slang and cultural talking points. JJ is sympathetic, as is his situation. I didn't really think the 'Dear Mum' format worked, a straightforward narrative would have been less clunky.

This would work well being read alongside something like 'Pigeon English' with a similar setting but from a younger boy's perspective on London gangs and violence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different style for a well known writer 22 Aug. 2010
Part of the quick reads series, this is a different style for this well known author who is more usually known for her couplets and poetry. A short novella in the form of a letter from JJ (Jerome) to his mum, about how he came to fall in with a bad crowd. He explains he never wanted to, but it just happened and in some ways was a self fulfilling prophecy based on his background and neighbourhood. Hard hitting and thought provoking with a shocking ending.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sad but relevant 23 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this short story as part of my World Book Night reading challenge and it's one of the Quick Read range.

The book starts off addressed to Jerome's mum and throughout the book we see what is it to be a teenager on a city estate and how Jerome gets tangled up with gang culture and drugs on the streets of London culimnating in a devastating ending. I actually thought he was writing his letter from prison but without trying to plot spoil all is revealed on the very last page.

This is written in teenage slang and how teenagers would speak so yes there issues with grammar etc but I think this makes it more authentic - as if actually from the mouth of a 14-year-old black teen.

It's a sad reflection on society which reads authentically and very much reminded me of the Stephen Lawrence murder. It's a quick easy read into inner city life with a sad ending that I didn't see coming.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Jerome RIP
The story of Jerome effectively shows the sad journey of boys into gangs but the use of language did not accurately depict London youth and for me was a distraction as it moved in... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Crissy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Happy with the book
Published 29 days ago by Chris Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read for our students having rather big letters ...
Easy to read for our students having rather big letters and being not too long! Recommended for learners of English, level A2-B1
Published 1 month ago by Anne Tove Strande
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great quick read about inner city gang lad. Sad story.
Published 2 months ago by J Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
What a brilliantly written book, once i had started reading it, i couldn't put it down until the last page.
Published 9 months ago by geraldine britton
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
Interesting little read. Can imagine it's how a lot of kids feel growing up in some places. Very thought provoking
Published 10 months ago by bookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for reluctant teen readers
Although the plot is see-through from the outset, this doesn't take away from what is otherwise a gripping short story. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Leila UK
2.0 out of 5 stars Hello Mum
All the quick reads have been taken to the local hospital for the short time patients to read. Thank you.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. Stella E. Bliss
5.0 out of 5 stars Good ending
This was a really good book short but sweet.this is really good for teenagers and so shocking loved every minor of it!buy it!!!!
Published 16 months ago by it's totally addictive!
5.0 out of 5 stars you need to read this book.
This book is an excellent short read. I would recommend it to everyone, young and old. So glad I,ve read it.
Published 18 months ago by norm595
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