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4.4 out of 5 stars64
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 June 2007
This is about an ex-social worker who becomes embroiled in the lives of juvenile delinquents to the extent where he practically becomes a senile delinquent himself. The narrator's nickname is Chop (Bernard Hare) and he is rather proud of this involvement and proud to become a member of The Shed Crew (young Urban Grimshaw's gang). On the front cover of the book it says "the shocking story of hellbound children and one unlikely saviour" but I'm afraid that in this, Bernard Hare immodestly overshoots a tad with the 'unlikely saviour'. I found the book and the attitudes behind it rather disappointing. The novelty of drug-taking, car stealing, violent little brats is great at first but wears off after a few chapters. Chop's pride in them and their crimes really grates after a while. With some arguments he's very inconsistent: Complaining about lack of schooling, care etc. and then proudly chronicling the kids hopping off school and saying 'up yours' to the care when the 'Babylonians' offer it. At one point when a kid 'torches' a phonebox and then his own mum's flat, there is very little criticism, instead an almost perverse fatherly pride. But if you're a decent, normal person living on this street it will harm your psyche. Not Chop's though as he's in amongst it and safe in his familiarity with these yobs. Instead Chop complains about these estates as if they breed all this. But would you want them on your street? Would they change? You get the feeling from Hare that if you're not a delinquent then it's because you've had a golden childhood with loving parents etc. All these kids want is to feel that someone cares, we are told. And Bernard Hare does, especially for Urban Grimshaw. But ultimately this book made me care less about them all, not more. It left me feeling that unless you can assign one social worker for a child, a fulltime one at that (hopefully one that doesn't do drugs with them or steal with them, protect them from the police etc.), then it's just too late to help them. That's just the impression I've been given from the book. One full time social worker per child is financially impractical- not from my taxes you don't mate! Life's unfair to everyone, not just the Shed Crew. I much preferred and would recommend A Kestrel for a Knave which actually showed the reader Billy Casper's background and lost potential rather than merely told you. Also, it lacked the self congratulatory narrator and intruding political rantings.
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on 25 September 2010
This book was on my reading list at Uni and I was gripped from the first page. Would of loved a sequel to it. Highly recommended. I passed it on to my daughter to read, who has since passed it on to my boss and they loved it. A must read.
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on 17 July 2007
like one of the other readers sais,,,,,love it or hate it,,,approve or disapprove,,,,this book has to be read,,,,it is a rolllercoaster of a read..it leaves you feeling warm, cold, disgusted, disillusioned and very very grateful to have what you have. it opens your eyes to the parts of society that most of us are fortunate enought to avoid on a daily basis. 5 stars DO NOT mean i agree with all the authors rants and beliefs but i don`t think he meant for the readers to agree with him...he certainly didn`t write this book to make friends.... i would love to see a quality young british director like Shane Meadows putting this on the screen.
There are messages in here for all of us to learn.
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on 6 March 2008
I COULDN`T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. IT`S SO HONESTLY WRITTEN YOU FEEL AT TIMES YOU`RE ACTUALLY THERE WITH THE CREW. MADE MY EYES FILL UP AT TIMES, AND AT OTHER TIMES I LAUGHED OUT LOUD AT THE YORKSHIRE DIALECT AND HUMOUR WE ALL KNOW SO WELL ! LOL.
I JUST LOVED THE ABSOLUTE HONESTY OF IT ALL - TALK ABOUT TELL IT LIKE IT IS ! FROM PAGE ONE THIS BOOK GETS RIGHT UNDER YOUR SKIN, AS DO IT`S CHARACTERS, WHO ARE ALL `LOVABLE ROGUES`. WELL WRITTEN - LIKE HE JUST SAT DOWN AND SAID IT ALL OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD ONE DAY AND SOMEONE WROTE IT DOWN - DON`T MISS IT - IT`S BRILLIANT !!
GOOD LUCK TO BERNARD AND ALL THE CREW. I HOPE YOU ALL FIND HAPPINESS.
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on 21 June 2014
This is one of my favourite reads. It is an honest and often gut crushing account of the degradation one group of children experience in a so-called first world country. It is nothing short of shameful that children are living this way in every country, even the supposedly wealthy ones like the UK, US and Australia. Mr Hare highlights how just one person's care and consideration can help children like this feel valued. I have had the privilege of working with underprivileged kids and hope to continue doing so. Children can grow and change if provided with the opportunity to do so.
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on 21 February 2008
by far one of the best books i have read for a long time. i grew up in leeds about the same time as urban grimshaw and this book opened my eyes to the terrible situations young people were coping with on an everyday basis. it really tells an interesting tale of how everyone let these members sf society down. on the flip side though it is written in a very funny and honest style which will have you turning every page with anticipation, what can urban and his friends possibly do to top that!!!
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on 14 February 2014
This has to be the best book I have read in a long time
As someone who was brought up in a neighboring estate in Leeds in the 90's this book describes mine and many of my peer’s childhoods. A lot of the issues Urban and the Shed Crew faced were very similar to the issues I had to overcome in my childhood and teen years.
Hats off to Bernard Hare for this very true to life description of poverty in under classes and I will be recommending it to all my friends.
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on 26 June 2005
It would be a pity if people didn't pick up this book because they thought it was a kind of gritty social science. In fact the (true) story of Urban Grimshaw reads like fiction of the highest order. The events are, by turn, hilarious and deeply moving. The milieu is similar to Irvine Welsh's 'Trainspotting' but Hare's narrative voice is more accessible and, if anything, more assured. Hare, like James Kelman, has worked and lived with the community he documents; he shares many of their values and, although the book is permeated with a sense of outrage at the destruction of the social fabric caused by the Thatcher years its vitality, energy and sheer comedy give one hope. The 'characters' in the book have much to offer, but they are easy to demonise and, as Hare discovers, hard to help. The question is, who, beyond the level of the individual, is prepared to help in a world where social structures have collapsed.
Although assisted by BBC journalist, Fergal Keane whose 'A Stranger's Eye' visits the same area of inner-city Leeds, Hare has produced a book with much wider appeal. The book is a compelling read which, like all good stories, has its own momentum. I couldn't put it down.
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on 17 November 2006
This is a snapshot into the lives of a group of youngsters living in a deprived area of Leeds, as seen through the eyes of misfit former social worker Hare. Well, deprived isn't really adequate. These kids would be seen by many as the scum of the earth, and by others as being completely let down by the system.

Hare pulls no punches and manages to convey the miserable lives of his subjects in a colourful and moving way. The kids generally seem to accept their lot in life and their outlook does provide a fair amount of humour. They hold just about everyone in contempt and have no repect whatsoever for authority or the law.

Hare's occasional misgivings can't hide the fact that he is clearly one of the "Crew" and is sympathetic towards the kids regardless of what they get up to. Whether you can enjoy the book on not probably depends on how sympathetic you are towards such miscreants.
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on 7 January 2013
This book was cheap, came very quickly and was in excellent condition.

I loved this book I thought it was very honest and a good insight into a world that many people live in without any one else realising that it is going on.

I thought Bernard Hare was an excellent writer a little self indulgent at times but why not.

I would & have recommended this book.
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