Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Apples...This is how some people do live

Title: Apples
Author: Richard Milward
ISBN: 978-0-571232-83-3
Rating: 7/10
Genre: Teenage, Drugs, Sex, Fiction
Book: Paperback

"It felt like someone dropped a cartoon ton-weight on me. I must've been thinking about Majorca pretty hard - I wasn't sure how long I'd been asleep, but my belly was still churning and my eyelashes were glued. I wiped my mouth then rolled about in the bed - I didn't have a clue where I was, but I figured it was Rachel's room and slowly the memories of the party started to jigsaw themselves together. My skull was absolutely exploding. It was hard to look through the dark, and I got the shock of my life seeing Adam's head by the bedside. Where did he come from? I couldn't remember him being at the party, and I couldn't even speak when he shifted his weight and asked, You okay?"

I have owned this book for such a long time. A friend of mine knows the author. Apples is based in my local area. I am proud to say I am born and bred in Teesside. Although I do not live in the specific town of Middlesbrough, I know it very well, have worked there for a number of years and continue to visit on a regular basis. I attended Teesside University and have worked in a number of different establishments in the town, from the Cleveland Police to Legal Services to their school system. In my personal opinion, Teesside has a great opportunity for people to achieve. It is making people aware of
Teesside's potential which could change these children's lives. However, there are a select few areas, as there are in many towns, which are underprivileged and can struggle to get by. Unfortunately, that is the kind of area where the characters of th
is book live. Before I started to read the book I read some reviews and was surprised at how much people did not believe these things are likely to happen. How they did not see it like this and felt that Milward was exaggerating the area the characters lived in. Harrowingly this is exactly how some people live, especially in large built-up areas where there is such contrast in living conditions. I wanted to prove this is truly how some children live. This is the life they are subjected to because of where they live and only a small percentage escape and get out.

The main characters live in the Beechwood and Easterside estates of Middlesbrough. They are Adam and Eve, hence the name of the book is Apples. We mostly hear from Adam and Eve throughout the story, there are chapters where we hear information from other characters, Claire, Gaz and even a streetlamp and a butterfly at one stage! Adam is a character who I really felt for. He clearly has a number of personal issues going on both at home and with his own understanding of himself. It is obvious from the very beginning he has severe OCD which is going to get worse if he does not learn to control it. He has to make sure he opens and closes things, such as doors, books etc a number of times otherwise people will die, or become seriously ill. Adam is extremely socially awkward and thinks everyone is laughing at him or at his expense. He starts to come out of his shell throughout the book but appears to keep on getting knocked down. Eve, in contrast, is a very confident, open and frankly, naive young girl. These characters are approximately 14 or 15 years old in the story and Eve thinks
she is more streetwise than she is. She drinks, she sleeps with random people, she takes ecstasy in nightclubs off people she doesn't know all because she does not want to face the awful cancer illness her mum is going through at home. Eve thinks she knows the ways of the world, she thinks she is able to take on anyone and will be better off for it. I honestly wanted to give her a hug. I wanted to take her in and open her eyes to what a life like that will really lead her too. Adam is the same, I wanted to help him in so many ways. I wanted to take him away from the abusive home life he was surrounded by and to help him with his social anxiety and other aspects of his life. I also felt for Claire, Eve's friend. She has a baby when she is still a child herself. She has no one to support her because of the background she has come from herself and no one seems to be able to help her. She is destined to spiral down and be unable to see a way back out. It is such a shame, yet a realistic description of what having a child so young can do to someone living in this situation.

Throughout the whole book there is only one character who I did not like. Gary, or Gaz as they refer to him. He is horrible. He thinks he has control over everyone and thinks he has the right to take advantage of them. I just hope that Eve realises and something is done about him. I honestly felt sick to my stomach every time Milward mentions him. The way he walks around other people's houses at parties, thinking he is in charge and taking advantage of unconsenting young girls. Milward uses Gaz's character in a way which got me really frustrated. I felt very strongly about Gaz and thought Milward did this very well.

I would like to point out here that this is absolutely how a number of children live in the
Middlesbrough area. I have worked in the area of Middlesbrough where this book is set out and I have heard awful stories about the children living there. How they are exposed to drug use and dealing, sex and heartbreaking living conditions. Because of this, I am confident there are a number of other towns and cities where children are also living a life like this. They will be subject to sexual encounters when still children themselves, drug use and abuse of all kinds. If there are any young people reading this, even if you don't think you are young and you think you know what's best, please get the help you need in order to make a better life for yourself. You are worth so much more. You may be in your mid-teens and think you are invincible and you know better, but I work with a number of young people in schools who I just hope and pray will see the errors of their ways and be able to help themselves before something horrific happens. There are massive numbers of children who come from areas of the country where they think they will not achieve anything more than what their social status predicts. Being on benefits or having a large number of children from a young age. This does not have to be this way. You can be absolutely anything you want to, you have so much potential you just need to see how much you are worth. There are a huge amount of places you can turn to to
get help. If you don't feel like this help can be found at home speak to someone at school, ring the NSPCC or just speak to a friend or their parents/guardians. I would hate to think someone who is reading this is going through what these poor characters experienced. To the people who have previously reviewed this book, I want to make you aware this is absolutely happening in real life and it is happening far too much! Please open your eyes to the young people around you as it could be happening to someone you know and you may be the person who can change their life.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book, although I would put an age recommendation of 16+. I feel this book is not suitable for young teenagers and there is a massive amount of inappropriate language, drug use and reference and sexual encounters which are not suitable for children under 16. I feel the people who need to read this book are the people who have their eyes shut to what society is really like. They are the people who believe everyone lives the perfect life and every child or young person lives in a kind and stable upbringing. I am sorry but this is not the case. Disgustingly, children are abused, they are taken advantage of and they become involved in things which no one should ever experience. Please help them and become aware of what is going on.

Rating: 7/10
10-Word-Review: Harrowing but painfully accurate for a huge amount of people.

My next read is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. This is a book which I have read before on a number of occasions. My class at school will be exploring the book in English and I will be reading it to refresh my own memory of the story. It is a book which I always enjoy and find distressing and poignant. If you haven't read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas before then please do. I strongly feel it will become a classic and be as notable as such titles of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I really do hope my post has reached someone who was looking for help and didn't know where to find it. If you feel you really have no one to turn to or no one will listen to you then talk to me. I will always reply and I would hate for you to go through this alone...Steph xx

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