Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper isn’t officially published till 3rd February, but already (7th January 2015) Advance Review Copies are collecting reviews. These from Amazon UK:
***** 5 Stars from Clare
What a great book, don’t be put off by the title! The story of Bill and how he rose from rough beginnings to become a man. The ups and downs of his life keep the story moving. The characters are great. The people who help Billy are ones you (mostly) hope are in the justice system helping troubled young people make the most of their lives. I love the way the story comes full circle and Billy is able to give somebody else hope.
***** 5 Stars from Mrs P Wood
Received this book free from the publisher as an advance review copy. My first read of this author, but on the basis of this book not my last. Written in autobiographical style the book gives a grittily authentic look into life in a sink estate and the woeful nature of some of our education , social and penal systems. Billy, the main character is determined to escape the life he seems condemned to live. He suceeds, not by fighting the system but by astutely identifying and using people within it who can help him. He realises however that freedom is not enough . His search for redemption leaves the reader not in despair of the world we live in , but hope. An inspiring book by an extremely insightful author.
***** 5 Stars from Jeanette Clarke
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. The snappy title sets the tone for this highly enjoyable read. It is an intriguing story initially based in a no-hope housing estate in the north of England. Young Billy (Zappa) is determined to get out of the vicious cycle of drugs, drink and benefits dependency, but is held back by a family straight out of the Jeremy Kyle show. Billy is smart though, and uses his gifts for writing and photography to dig himself out of the pit of neglect in which he’s been raised. Smoothly written, I look forward to more books from John Lynch.
***** 5 Stars from Mr M A Wilson
I’d not read anything by this author previously and from the sleeve notes it is not the type of novel I would normally read. I received an advance copy from the publisher so gave it go and have to say I was hooked from page 1. It’s an interesting story of a hard childhood and boy becoming man, with all the trials and tribulations along the way. At times inspiring, at others hard to comprehend such a family upbringing could be true to life……..certainly for a middle aged, middle class reader. A real eye opener. Gritty and ultimately heart warming. I can sincerely recommend this book.
And this from Amazon.com:
***** 5 Stars from Richard Jackson
I received this book free from the publisher as an Advance Review Copy, possibly because I have reviewed a lot of books for Amazon. How many with the potential of a Charles Ives, Ogden Nash or Arthur Miller have been born into terrible circumstances and have grown up and died without any chance of realizing their potential? Billy McErlaine (his mother named him Zappa), the protagonist of this book, could have been such a one. Having made a devil’s bargain to get involved with crime as a teenager, he finds himself committed to an institution having been convicted of murder. Not a promising start but with the help of a few teachers who see something in him he blossoms as a best-selling photographer and thereby escapes for ever from the Newcastle slum in which he was raised. At first the story jumps from his life in the mean streets and with his “mam” to the period of his institutional confinement. “Slapper” by the way is apparently British slang for a woman of easy virtue. And Billy’s mother is certainly that. John Lynch conveys the details of life in the crime ridden streets of a Newcastle “project” so meticulously that one suspects a degree of autobiographical experience here, perhaps a large amount. The reader is entranced by Billy’s story, wondering for a long time whether he will in fact “make good” or whether unfair circumstances will drag him down again. The second half of the book covers Billy’s life between his emancipation (released on parole) at around age 18 to early adulthood. We learn a lot about the things Billy meets as he grows, expensive bicycles and cameras, and Photoshop at which he excels. Billy goes to college and is recruited to play Rugby football (known as “rugger” in England). All this speaks again I think of the personal experiences of the author. Billy’s life is of course shaped by the relationships he has: with the local crime lord, Regus, for example, and with Melanie, the guidance counselor who is his best friend in the institution. There are quite a few sexual relationships, Billy is young of course and most of this just seem to happen to him. While the sex scenes are not graphic this may not be a book for the highly prudish, there are a couple pages involving words that can definitely not be said on television. I sometimes wonder when reading a sex episode in a book whether the author does not get more “enjoyment” writing it than the typical reader does reading it. All in all a gripping book involving all the facets of humanity.
Despite the fact that I would never use the word “rugger”—I’d as soon see Lawrence Dallaglio sporting a diamond earring—I am delighted by these reviews because it is, in the end, my readers that I write for and their approval means everything to me. You can read more about the book here; the Kindle version is here and you can order the paperback from your local bookshop (ISBN: 978-1-910194-11-9) or buy it direct, postage paid, here.