Nettles by Adam Scovell
There’s something about schools and bullying which is irresistible to novelists, and who can blame them because the scars, literal and metaphorical, run deep. Most of us have been there, running the gauntlet between lessons or waiting, on edge, for the final bell and dash before the hard-knocks descend with fists and Docs swinging and stamping. What makes the superbly written Nettles, so tense is that the bullying doesn’t begin in small increments or sneaky cruelties but starts for the narrator on day one in secondary school and doesn’t let up. Shuffled in with these painful memories is the story of the narrators returning to his childhood house where he confronts the past by taking Polaroid photos of the local area in the hope of making an accommodation with the past. Set in a suburb of Liverpool, Adam Scovell captures the suburban ennui, past and present, with precision as he does the narrator’s connection with the natural world which clings on in the edge-lands and marshland butting up against the motorway and housing estates. Finding strength from these edge-lands gives the narrator the extra grit which eventually comes in handy against school bully number one. By the end of Nettles, the narrator has confronted his demons and come to a sort peace as he waves goodbye to his mum and the suburb he’s unlikely to return to again. A great novel.
Nettles – Adam Scovell by publ. Influx Press - £9.99
By Steven Long