A few things drew me to this book and made me move it to the top of my to read list. The setting, Campbell Road - one of the worst streets to live on in North London. It reminded me of a show on the BBC a while back about the streets of London and how they had changed over time. I have always been fascinated with history, and of streets and places in particular. I love looking at pictures of my own city many years ago, however there were plenty of slums around where I live that were part of a slum clearance many years ago and I also enjoy (for want of a better word) looking at these pictures too. It reminds you that however bad you think things are, this kind of living is surely a thing of the past.
This book is fiction, but contains elements of real life as it is loosely based on the author's recollection of her family who grew up in the area and lived on Campbell Road. There is an Author's Note at the back of the book and also some pictures including Campbell Road and pictures of men and women who were the inspiration for the characters of this book. Note however that I don't think these pictures appear in the Kindle edition having read some reviews of said edition elsewhere. I also feel that the author's note and pictures would have been better placed at the start of the book rather than the end. There is also a lovely epilogue at the end set in 1987 which I assume is a tribute of sorts to her family.
The book contains a fantastic cast of characters, all of whom are very well written and really believable. However there are times when you read dialogue or read about something happening to a character and remember that some of them are children. Characters as young as 14 are talking about going out and trying to find full time work to support their families. And families are living crammed into rooms in a house that they have to share with the rest of the family. It is unbelievable to imagine living like this. The characters all feel very real and you really root for them throughout the book. They are also willing to go to war for a country that doesn't care about them or want to help them.
I don't know what genre this book is but it is sort of similar to family saga books by the likes of Annie Groves etc however I find that those kinds of books, whilst touching on hard subjects, often end up being all lovey dovey. This book certainly isn't that however there are romantic elements but it is mostly about the hardships of living in an area like Campbell Road.
However it is also about people pulling together. The people around Campbell Road looked down on the residents and wouldn't give them jobs if they were from the area. They wouldn't even want people from 'The Bunk' walking down their streets. But on the streets the neighbours (most of them) are friends and look out for one another and it is nice to feel the sense of camaraderie despite the terrible lives these people are living.
Overall this was a fantastic book that I cannot reccommend enough. I came across this book when I saw Kay's latest book for sale in a supermarket however reading the blurb made me see that her latest book is a continuation of sorts featuring the Keiver family so I intend to continue with the series before picking up the latest one.