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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
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...
Published on 9 Mar. 2010 by Frank Leavis

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not original story but good to see it in this accessible format
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...
Published 16 months ago by K. J. Noyes


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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 review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
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 "Kindle Allie" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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"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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not original story but good to see it in this accessible format, 8 Dec. 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and scary, 17 July 2013
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Gothicfun (london, - United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
Very scary to read this and see how the main character just gets pulled into gang life. Sad too. So many little touches, like the local big man lives only in a little modern box house, he's really proud of it and not living in a council flat but it's so tiny and dirty cause he never cleans it. And the main character is looking at it and thinking, "I don't like this". But he can't think what to do to get free.

I don't know what gang life is like and for all I know the details are not like the author describes, but emotionally this book is so true, it describes so well the way you just can't make the right choices sometimes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Jerome RIP, 26 Feb. 2015
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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 and out of the appropriate vernacular. Yet this is more like the truth than what the media depicts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So true to life, 6 July 2011
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This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
I felt this book was very true to life, sadly. Well writtena dn you could almost hear the boy talking. Although it was sad and I knew what was coming, I still 'enjoyed', if that's the right word, reading this book. Well done to the author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for reluctant teen readers, 21 April 2014
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This review is from: Hello Mum (Quick Reads) (Paperback)
Although the plot is see-through from the outset, this doesn't take away from what is otherwise a gripping short story. Good book for teen boys in particular or for adults trying to understand the world their teens inhabit.
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Hello Mum (Quick Reads)
Hello Mum (Quick Reads) by Bernardine Evaristo (Paperback - 4 Mar. 2010)
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