This Boy by Alan Johnson
A Memoir of a Childhood

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...it is beautifully observed, humorous, moving, uplifting; told with a dry, self-deprecating wit and not a trace of self-pity.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Alan Johnson's childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all.

This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan's mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child. Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.

This Boy is one man's story, but it is also a story of England and the West London slums which are so hard to imagine in the capital today. No matter how harsh the details, Alan Johnson writes with a spirit of generous acceptance, of humour and openness which makes his book anything but a grim catalogue of miseries.
 

About Alan Johnson

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ALAN JOHNSON was born in May 1950. He is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until January 20, 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Johnson has been the Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle since 1997.
 
Published June 17, 2013 by Bantam Press. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel.
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Critic reviews for This Boy
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Chris Mullin on May 11 2013

...it is beautifully observed, humorous, moving, uplifting; told with a dry, self-deprecating wit and not a trace of self-pity.

Read Full Review of This Boy: A Memoir of a Child... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Peter Wilby on May 02 2013

This is about two extraordinary women who waged a battle for survival, with neither time nor energy left for politics. Johnson has given them a handsome and eloquent tribute.

Read Full Review of This Boy: A Memoir of a Child... | See more reviews from Guardian

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