Our members' book club runs four times a year. Mind members and staff share reviews of the books they have been reading and members can enter a prize draw to win copies of all the books that have been reviewed.
The story of Shuggie Bain is one that I won’t easily forget. It clawed at my heart while playing with my own demons. Set in Glasgow in the 1980s, the protagonist, Shuggie Bain is a gentle, loving wee soul who along with his parents and step-brother Leake leave their grandmother’s flat for a new life in Pithead. His sister has already left home and Leake isn’t too far behind her.
Shuggie’s father, a womanising taxi driver doesn’t stick around either, he abandons them to a life of hardship and poverty in a run-down housing scheme. His mother Agnes’s increasingly destructive drinking habit renders her ineffective as a mother. Shuggie is left neglected having to not only fend for himself but is compelled to look after Agnes too. The absolute warmth that I felt in my heart when Agnes spent an entire year observing sobriety must ring true with so many readers, it definitely did with me.
Shuggie’s story spans over a decade during which time we see him grapple with his own sexuality, something that Agnes uses to manipulate him. We see him being bullied by not only his peers but by adults too. Shuggie Bain is a heart-breaking and brutally honest story of love, addiction, betrayal and most of all resilience.
**Content warnings** addiction, violence, neglect
Reviewer: Mona, Mind member
Beth Crowe has just started at Trinity College, shadowed by the weight of her potential as a competitive swimmer. In a space where she can craft a new identity, she is surrounded by fans of her grandfather’s poetry. He took his own life before she was born, and her mother and grandmother are still navigating the impact of his loss. Digging deeper into her family’s past, she finds herself in a secret relationship, and uncovers a new side to her personal history.
A completely absorbing book - if I could have read this in one go, I would have. I felt Ryan tackled bereavement by suicide with sensitivity and compassion, and depicted the push and pull in different relationships with so much skill. This is a novel full of different kinds of tension and chemistry. The snatches of poetry help reinforce the sense of self-discovery.
Holding Her Breath poses powerful questions about how we decide who we are on our own terms, and how we come to terms with ourselves.
**Content warnings** suicide inc. discussion of suicide method, bereavement, cancer
Reviewer: Rachel, Trust and Statutory Assistant at Mind
Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other tells the story of modern Britain that is very rarely told. It opened my eyes and my heart; painting a vivid picture that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.
It follows the lives, loves and struggles of 12 characters, most of them black British women and whose lives are all interconnected. From fearless student Yazz to lesbian playwright Yamma; high-flying investment banker Carole to non-binary social media influencer Morgan. In each chapter we step into a different body, discovering the character’s darkest secrets and biggest fears, riding the highs and the lows as they navigate the world around them.
In the wrong hands, moving between so many different stories could have left you feeling disconnected; always longing for more, but I never felt this way. I think this was because of the characters themselves, who are all brilliantly drawn by Evaristo, each with their own distinct voice.
Witty, moving and bursting with life; Evaristo takes some of the most mundane situations and makes them sparkle. It’s written in an innovative way, taking inspiration from poetry in how it is structured. It can take a little while to get used to this, but once you’ve acclimatised the novel feels all the richer for it, providing a pace and rhythm that is rare in fiction.
If you’re looking for a novel that will leave you give you a different perspective on modern Britain, that will challenge, enlighten, and inspire you, I’d urge you to give this wonderful novel a read.
Reviewer: Lydia, Membership Officer at Mind
**Content warnings** Racism, sexual assault, transphobia, homophobia, miscarriage
Members can enter our draw for a chance to win a free copy of one of the books included in our book club. All you have to do is click on the button below and fill out the prize draw form telling us which book you would like to win.
The closing date for entry to the free prize draw is two weeks from the date our book club email was sent to members. The prize draw will take place within two weeks of the closing date for entry. Winners will be selected at random. Prize draw entry is restricted to UK residents who are Mind members. Mind employees and their immediate families may not apply, nor may anyone else directly associated with the competition. In case of the winner being under 18 the prize will need to be claimed by a parent or guardian.
If you have any questions, please contact the membership team via email at [email protected] or by telephone on 0208 215 2243.
You can also catch up with all of the past reviews in our members book club archive.
Do you have another book you'd like to recommend? Are you interested in writing a review to let your fellow Mind members know what you thought of it? Email us at [email protected]