Monday, August 15, 2016

Street Soldier








Street Soldier
By Andy McNab
Published by Penguin Random House, August 2016


Sean Harker is a Londoner from Walthamstow's Littern Mills estate. He's a street kid, a member of the Littern Guyz gang; when a theft goes wrong, he takes the rap and ends up in a Young Offenders Institute. When he is offered a chance to leave the YOI early and join the Army instead, he is torn between his loyalty to his gang, some of whom are already at the Institute, and the chance to make something of his life - rather than be  always looking over his shoulder, waiting for another crime to go wrong and ending up in prison for a very long time.

He chooses the Army after witnessing the suicide of a friend in the Institute and vows to make something of his life. Everything is on track, he is settling down well ...until he becomes mates with Corporal Heaton, who has a flash car, a flash pad and a flash lifestyle. Sean is persuaded to help "liberate" some firearms from the Army, allegedly to help protect the general public from terrorist attacks and those who would subvert the British way of life. That, and a chance of ready cash in return seems like a good idea until he discovers that  Heaton is working for a very unsavoury group of people who claim to be good guys but are no better than those they despise. 

Sean has to make some hard decisions abut whom he can trust, whom he should trust and where his true loyalties lie - with his mum, his street gang mates or the Army. How far could he or should he go to serve and protect his country?

This is a hard and gritty story indeed. Definitely not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, it portrays the harsh mindset and activities of street gang life, crime, violence and the criminal justice system as experienced by juveniles in detail as well as Sean's Army training and experiences. Targeted at older teens/the YA market, I found it a really gripping read with a definite message that even if you mess up your life, you can always find a way to turn things around.



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