Books,  Four Stars,  Review,  YA

Turf by John Lucas

Author: John Lucas
Publisher: Random House
Published: August 2nd
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC from publishers
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD


Jay’s life seems pretty sorted: 15 years old and already a rising member of the notorious Blake Street Boyz gang, he takes his lessons from the street. With a knife in his pocket and his best friend Milk by his side, their days are spent fiercely defending their turf.
When Jay gets the chance to step up and become a senior of the Boyz, he faces the biggest decision of his life: he must stab and kill a classmate – and rival gang member – or face the consequences.
It doesn’t take long for Jay’s world to spiral out of control. As the line between right and wrong begins to fade, he finds no escape. Jay has to act, but at what and whose cost?
Set against the backdrop of London’s inner-city tower blocks, in a world where killing can be easier than choosing what chocolate bar to eat, Turf is a story of intense friendship and brutal gang violence, of loyalty at any cost – even to the price of your own soul.
It’s the kind of story that continues to dominate front page headlines and this powerful novel shows us just how violent life can be for people living under street gang rule.

Four Stars
four out of five hearts

It all starts somewhere
I feel it imperative to start of this review by saying something about the inspiration not only behind the book but behind my reasoning in picking it up. Unfortunately there is a lot of violence and crime on the streets, especially in London amongst the youths. I don’t personally live in London myself but I do leave near to the city and the events of last summer truly shocked me. I was horrified and petrified as I knew people who lived in the areas that were attacked. I was devastated for the business owners who were targeted and just worried that the police would struggle to handle it all. Fortunately, it all blew over but this problem still exists within London today. An awareness of this is needed but an awareness of why is more important and I really feel that books like Turf are a great start.

it builds up
For me, Turf is an exceptional book that I really enjoyed reading. I found myself emotional invested in the story and hoping that things would turn around. It has a dark and deep undertone throughout the book that leaves you with a lot to think about. It may be a fictional story and the events within the book may not be true to life completely, but it allows the reader to reflect on the world today and how the youth manage, or don’t manage, to cope with the life they lead. It is an eye-opening and just truly inspired novel that really managed to keep me interested. I just wanted to read on, I needed to know what Jay was going to do next while I bit my lip and hoped that things would turn around for him soon.

The plot in the book is not entirely fast-paced and in reality, it seems like not a lot actually happens but at the same time, a lot does go on. It seems that in a blink of an eye, so many different factors and worries have occurred that the reader is left feeling breathless. It really kept you needing to turn the next page to know what was going to happen next. You could see how things were going to turn out and yet found yourself wishing that they didn’t have to. John Lucas has truly managed to capture the way that youths, and adults alike, have so many hard decisions to make in life and sometimes just one decision can ruin your entire life before you even realise that it has been made.


until it reaches
If there was ever anything good to be said about this book, I hope that people pick up on how brilliant the characters are. Jaylon was a magnificent character and I could really sympathise with him and everything that he had on his shoulders. He just wanted to be a good friend, a great boyfriend, the best brother and a good son but with so many decisions weighing him down, he knew he would always end up letting someone down. He had a lot to go through, pressure coming down on him from too many places and all he really wanted to do was live, to enjoy his life without dealing with the pressures of everyday life. Why was it such a problem to have a milky way bar? He was such a realistic character and I just wanted to be able to give him a helping hand along the way. I felt for him and it was just such a perfect portrayal of the way things can be.

The gang was intense and believable. It was the perfect way to show how violent and overbearing gangs can be, in fiction and in real life and it was just showcased in such a great way. The leader was truly remarkable; if you had someone like that on your back, it would definitely make it harder to be who you wanted to be. The split was nice to see as well. The Youngers and the Olders really showing how young people are roped into being a gang member and being shown the way of violence and crime. It was incredible to read about and I really felt that it helped to give the novel that little bit extra.

the breaking point
The only issue I had with this novel was the images surrounding religion. While I have nothing against it, I just found it difficult to get my head around at times. But, fortunately, I totally understand why it was there. It made the story that much better. It showed that Jay really didn’t know which way to turn, that it seemed the world was turning its back on him. It took a while to get used to, but once the significance of its placement was made known, I found it to be a perfect companion to the book and one that I wouldn’t want to remove. I just wish that the reason for its existence came to light a little bit earlier.

and disappears again
The ending of this novel truly moved me. I was at a loss when the book ended, knowing that I had just finished a truly great novel and one that should be read by many people. It was inspiring, eye-opening and powerful. A novel that should not be dismissed. I truly enjoyed the story and the journey that it took me on and just how much it made me think afterward. My heart ached, my brain ached and all I wanted to do was pick up the book again so that I could read it all over again. This is a novel that packs a punch, it is emotional and moving and is one novel that will stay in my mind for a long time to come. I would recommend it to so many people and I really hope that if you pick this one up, you feel as strongly about it as I do.



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