Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #49: Heads and Straights by Lucy Wadham

Number of pages: 95

I've never heard of the author Lucy Wadham before; however, this book is her vivid autobiographical account of growing up in Chelsea, and I found myself compelled to keep reading. The book is part of a series celebrating 150 years of the London Underground, although this one makes very little reference to it, aside when she talks about her trips from Gloucester Road to King's Cross.

This book paints a vivid picture of Britain in the 70s and 80s, discussing typical counter-culture attitudes and the impact of Thatcherism, and I got the impression that Wadham is somewhat left-wing in her political views, mostly from her anger at the late Margaret Thatcher. The title comes from the views that there are two types of people - heads (good people) and straights (bad people). The fact that the heads are the ones who smoked marijuana should give some idea of the typical attitudes in the time when Wadham was growing up.

The story focusses mainly on Wadham's family, including her controlling Grandmother who decided to commit adultery in order to be granted a divorce, and also talks at great length about her sister's heroin addiction. While I found it to be an interesting read, I felt that there wasn't enough exploration of the author's own feelings and times it felt like she was just observing her family from the outside (though based on the subject matter I suspect there were a lot of turbulent times for her family). One chapter, regarding her family's life in colonial Africa, felt almost like filler.

This book is very short and can be read quickly; overall I thought it was decent and would like to read other books by the same writer.

Next book: Can You Hear God? (Joyce Sibthorpe)
Tags: addiction, autobiography, bildungsroman/coming of age, book review, british, contemporary, drugs, memoir, misery memoir, non-fiction, politics

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