Two boys. John and Kenny. One streetwise and football mad, the other cold and unfathomable.
It's 1975. The heart of London's East End. As John celebrates the Hammers beating Fulham in the Cup Final, Kenny tumbles out the door of the new people's house across the street having taken a beating of a different kind.
When the new school year begins, John befriends Kenny, defending him from the ridicule of his classmates. But when you become mates with someone as odd, as downright terrifying as Kenny, nothing is ever straightforward. Amidst the turbulent years of late seventies London, the lives of John and Kenny spiral out of control. They meet again, years later, and local villain, Ronnie Swordfish, is after Kenny's head. All John can do is watch. Kenny, he ain't saying a word. He never does.
So when Ronnie gives the order to fetch his three foot Samurai sword, John thinks the game's all but up. Thing is, he don't know the half of it...
Abide With Me is a story of football, friendship, and hope. And gangsters.
A story of how two boys walked blind into the darkness... and emerged as men.
©2014 Darren Laws (P)2014 Caffeine Nights Publishing
Avid listener whilst doing the housework, and doing the school run!
East London, kids, gangsters
I believe this is one of Karl's first, and is a very solid performance.
Without giving the game away - what happens to Kenny at the end of a difficult life, is very moving.
The first part of the book takes you through the life of a young boy, and it took me a little while to adjust to hearing an older man's voice. However, as the story unfolded, and the coarse language which punctuates the book continued, I think this made a lot of sense, and added to the retrospective feel of the book. Karl's voice was comfortable to listen to, with a wonderful gravelly tone to it.
The story was moving and I was sucked in to discovering more about these two boys lives, always hoping for a better future for them. I was drawn in to an East London of the 60's and 70's.
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What an emotional rollercoaster ride and what an outstanding book! I went from laughing to tearing up to gasping in shock.
Abide With Me is partly coming-of-age story and partly crime fiction. Although not a Young Adult book, kids could learn a lot from it. It is advertised as a story of football, friendship, hope and gangsters. But it’s an awful lot more than that. Amongst other things, it is also about family, community, adversity and redemption.
Set in the East End of London in the 1970s and 80s, this is the story of John and Kenny, who live on the same street. It’s a rough place, school is tough, expectations are low, money is tight. But John has a relatively settled family life and, like his Dad, he loves supporting West Ham. Kenny, however, is the odd kid, the overweight boy, the one who gets bullied and hardly ever communicates.
Told entirely in John’s first person perspective, the East End vernacular used throughout may take a little getting used to, and the use of the f-word is pretty standard, but through these means, Ian Ayris creates a flawless representation of the setting and the characters.
Growing up in the seventies and being a devoted football/soccer fan, there was a lot there that automatically resonated with me. But even if you hate sports, the story is so powerful and realistic, you are bound to become fully engaged in these two lads’ lives. I made the mistake of listening while dog walking and failed miserably at trying to not cry at a particularly tragic moment.
Due to the first person narrative and John’s East End street-smart character, this needed a narrator who could really purvey John’s personality convincingly, and, as evidenced by my emotional turmoil throughout the nearly six hours of listening, Karl Jenkinson definitely pulled it off. He doesn’t seem to have narrated many other books yet, which makes his performance even more outstanding. I was particularly impressed by how he managed to express emotions and create suspense simply by small changes in pace and tone. It sounded so genuine, you really felt as if grown-up John was providing you with a retrospective of his life.
Nothing I say will probably do this book justice, but it is one hell of a debut novel, and I hope it’ll receive the widespread attention it deserves. Can’t recommend this highly enough, a perfect audio book!
I am very curious to see what Ian Ayris will come up with next (soon, hopefully).
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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I would recommend this book to not only a friend but anyone else looking for an excellent read. The storyline is gripping and the book is enhanced by the narrator.
Yes and I thoroughly enjoy listening to Karl narrate, he really purveys the characters personality throughout the book.
Yes I didn't want to put it down.
I read the book in print and its so specific to it's time and setting I kept hearing the words in the accent already, though through my American filter. Now I could hear the world of this fascinating book told as it was meant. It really enhanced the experience of an already superb book.
It's poignant, gritty, unexpectedly emotional at times. It's a coming of age tale, a crime story, a snapshot of London at a specific point in time. It all comes together in a fully realized world that transported me the way great books are meant to.
I had not. He nailed the tone and attitude of this book perfectly.
It would probably do well in one sitting. I gave it 3-4 days, but it's a compact story you could knock out in one afternoon or long car ride.
A great book made even better by a stellar read.
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