Jess is a single mother to two teenage children, and although life can be tough she’s just about keeping things together. But when her landlord asks her to move on, so he can sell the house they’re living in without warning, Jess’s worries take on a whole new meaning. As Jess struggles to regain her footing, cracks begin to appear in other areas of her life, and suddenly she feels she’s failing at everything. Her daughter Hazel is becoming more and more distant, her son Jacob is struggling to find where he fits in the world, and the menacing spectre of Jess’s older brother, someone she cut out of her life years ago, begins to make his presence felt again.
Jess knows she’s the only one who can keep her family together, but how can she keep going when life keeps beating her back?
Set on the streets of East London, These Streets is a searing and powerful novel that explores how we are meant to find our place in a world that is designed for only the privileged to succeed. Beautiful and honest, it is an essential story about living in Britain today.
My thoughts: this was a really interesting slice of life in East London. As rent prices soar, Jess finds herself priced out of the area she grew up in, where her elderly father still lives, where her kids go to school. Something that’s all too common in London in 2022.
The things Jess is facing – job loss, homelessness, an aging parent, struggles with her teenage children, are sadly all too familiar but Luan Goldie makes these mounting troubles not only relatable but empathetic and highly readable. I liked Jess and Wolf, I liked Ben and his dog Harold, I liked Jacob, and even Hazel. I saw so many people I know in the family and their struggles.
Contemporary fiction holds a mirror up to life in many ways and this intelligent and well written novel deserves a wide audience, and maybe someone in power might read it and finally do something about the mess we’re in.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.