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From the moment I started reading this book I was entranced by the truthful, raw, elegant, and articulate way of writing The author makes you want to keep reading, want to keep imagining There were so many truths about the state of our societies the way men in particular are forced to put on a harsh facade and play the game even if they abhor it The stories of Somalia were painful, but so beautiful The stories of the family made me feel like I was looking at a picture of a beautiful flower in the middle of a violent storm and hoping it would emerge unscathed, or be resilient enough to bounce back once the storm subsided Sometimes all the resiliency in the world cannot save one from the destruction that we bring upon ourselves The parallels between the gang run neighborhoods in London and Somalia and my own experiences in the Caribbean shocked me They are all so similar The last few books I read were suicide heavy I finished Ana Karenina and they even talked about that book in this book So funny I have chosen my reading list well I suppose I was impressed by the writing, the grace of the story, the ease with which the author was able to depict troubling circumstances, and the way he made me come to know the characters I often find endings abrupt and I found this ending sort of abrupt at first and then it dissolved into a dream of what will come. This debut novel by the East End raised son of Nigerian immigrants to England has a pretty clear point of view And that view is that racism permeates British culture, fashionable multiculturalism is an illusion, and pretty much all black men are locked in a lifelong struggle to break free of the negative expectations they see in the mirror Personally, I found the expression of these themes a bit on the strident side and sometimes rather clumsily articulated, but then again, as a comfortably middle class white guy, it could be reasonably argued that I posses none of the experience required to truly engage with the material Nonetheless, I found the book worth reading in several respects, especially its portrayal of the lives of two Somali immigrants to London, the cultural dislocation they feel, and the oppressive psychic climate of the East End estates that much of the story is set in That story is told almost entirely through the voices of an 18 year old Somali immigrant named Meina, and a 16 year old black English kid named James, who is the youngest of five drug dealing brothers Meina and James are brought together by the dark friendship James has with Meina s brother Ashvin The two teenage boys converted their despair with life s possibilities into a suicide pact that led to Ashvin s death and James near death The bulk of the book follows James and Meina s attempt to pick up the threads of their shattered lives after this tragedy If this sounds familiar, it s because the plot, and indeed the book itself, is a kind of homage to James Baldwin s Another Country, which is somewhat tiresomely namechecked a number of times throughout Their pain filled story comes across like a kind of extreme kitchen sink drama imagine a film like Nil By Mouth as done by Spike Lee The two must struggle to survive and find some way out of the grim slum life that surrounds them James strikes the reader as a character fully informed by Akinti s own upbringing, and his anguish and frustration with life often feels like the writer s own catharsis and thus, sometimes kind of overthought and overwritten At times his pain and confusion is wonderfully rendered, but at others, he comes across as far too sophisticated and existential an observer of life for a 16 year old Meanwhile, despite being raped a number of times in Somalia, Meina, provides a stable core to a story otherwise suffused with troubled souls, including her brother who witnessed the torture and murder of their parents , at least one of James gangster brothers and his crack addict mother, not to mention some clueless well meaning white folks.The publisher seems to be positioning the book as a raw and angry one, but it never quite got to that level for me James doesn t seem angry, so much as frustrated and dismissive of what society has to offer Meina certainly never comes across as angry, and her brother comes across mainly as the victim of post traumatic stress Yes, there is some very graphic violence including a devastating rape scene indeed, rape is a prevalent theme in the book but I m not sure that makes it a raw The final third of the book starts to veer into melodrama turf, especially the actions of one of James brothers, which read like a heavy handed metaphor for the black male condition than a realistic conclusion In the end, it s this kind of heavy handedness that marks the book as a debut and kept me from really falling under its spell. I m not sure of how or why I came upon this book, I think it was a grab in passing from the public library s browse shelf I m glad that this book crossed my path, it is brutal and beautiful and engaging. one of my book culbs are reading this book this kind of book is new to me so to me it was a lil slow i almost stop reading it im happy i read it because it was a good book hrad to read at time with the rape and things like that over all a good book It was interesting that I received Forest Gate shortly after I The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Durrow It, too, deals with racial issues, but from a very different perspective I could not have planned my reading any better and I would like to thank Simon Schuster Free Press for the opportunity to read and review this first novel by Peter Akinti return return For me, this book was an incredible work of genius I read the book very quickly and realized only on the very last page that this was a novel This is a testament to the authenticity of voice, place and character crafted by Akinti I typically try not to learn too much about a book I am about to read and I honestly thought this was a personal memoir written by two people, together I was truly amazed when I found that it was not.so what was it return It begins as the story of two young Black boys, both living in the Forest Gate area of London, England This is an impoverished area and both boys felt that they had no opportunities in the future they decided to commit suicide together by jumping off twin towers One boy lived, the other died The boy who lived spent time recovering living with the sister of the dead boy The story is told in alternating chapters with the boy and the girl narrating The feelings of hopelessness are palpable Sadly, the suicide attempts are not the worst aspects of the lives of these three young people And the racist attitudes of the people in their part of London and the surrounding areas are in stark contrast to the European model portrayed by Durrow in the previous book I suspect this is because human attitudes, good and bad, can be seen in every situation, in every place and time Hopefully, as we all begin to explore the negative impact of these attitudes through fictional accounts such as these we will slowly begin to move beyond stereotypes and racism. In the old council flats of London, a tragic event ripples through gang and racial warfare James, a local black British teen from a successful crack dealing family, and his best friend, Ashvin, a poet loving Somali refugee, jump off a towering building, nooses around their necks, in a suicide pact Ashvin dies and James survives Ashvin s sister, Armeina Meina , hooks up with James in shared grief to forge a tentative but tender friendship This is their story.There is a lot of potential in this plaintive novel of redemption It has heart, and it murmurs It doesn t quite sing, though The story is narrated largely through Meina, with a few sections by James and other characters The primary problem is that the author didn t adequately distinguish the separate voices of James and Meina they are too similar Even the cadence is synonymous, which you wouldn t expect from two people from separate countries and disparate backgrounds Meina was raised in an educated home, by intellectual parents, and witnessed their terrifying, horrifying massacre at the hands of the Ethiopians during civil war strife James was reared by the horrors and betrayals of his family and neighborhood The lack of narrative distinction distracted and removed me from the immediacy of the story and conferred an unnatural tenor.The book was described as tautly constructed, written with a controlled rage I disagree Rather, the voices were a bit precious and lacking in the subtext necessary for the reader to register the contained rage There was restraint, but it was unintentional The wattage was dimmed by authorial trepidation, as if Akinti was unsure of asserting the fury of his characters This created a languid tone and lack of muscle in the prose delivery It felt like he was playing it safe to ensure that we connected with and liked the characters I would have preferred that he liberate himself from that self conscious mode and get out of his own way.Interestingly, his graphic scenes are very well done, crafted with menacing weight They were not gratuitous On the contrary, they exploded with tormenting finesse, like a coiled thunder It permeated the prosaic air with a crackling heat The violence that the Somalians endured during than dozen civil wars is heartbreaking And the devestrating terrors perpetrated on the youth in this London neighborhood are merciless and harrowing.If this debut novel went through a few drafts, it could be a dazzling, evocative story, as Akinti s talent is evident I look forward to seeing how he evolves. Forest Gate is Peter Akita s debut novel I hadn t ever heard of him before until I came across his absolute gem of a debut in the library yesterday.I m going to start off by saying, its been a hell of a long time since I ve felt the way I feel about this fantastic book Sure, I ve read mostly good books lately but this is not just a good book The word good does not do it justice by half I almost loved it as much as I loved an earlier book of the year by anothet author Shantaram.So what s it about What kinda book is it It s really hard to categorise this into any particularly genre so for me, I ve classed it as that mostly all encompassing genre of contemp lit but begrudgingly as even that doesn t even wholly fit correctly.A bit about the plot So the book starts off with the death of a black kid who died after committing suicide following a suicide pact made with his best friend James also black.That s all I m gonna give you other than the book explores the reasons for the guys deciding to end their lives James doesn t die and he and the protaganists sister strike up a relationship of sorts where everything is out in the open The book explores black history, racism and gang culture All fascinatibg stuff.It s not an easy or happy read but it s a thought provoking and well written one I already love this author and plan on buying his next one.For the record I picked this up on a whim not my usual book at all but absolutely loved it All characters fully developed Amazing Forest Gate told a very dark tale of multiple rapes, murder and suicide, but with such detailed backstory that I fully understood the motivations behind the actions, as terrible as they were Akinti goes as far as making the reader believe the rape of the Ethiopaian boy Namal is justified by Ashvin s own rape years earlier All throughout, the reader really feels the pain of the characters.All of the main characters carry such heavy loads of their dark lives All are young, black and completely marginalized in English society by the mere circumstances of their births Two Somali refugees and the youngest son of a family of drug dealers and a crackhead mom The top supporting characters are a former intelligence operative with a shady background and the oldest of the drug dealing brothers, a man feared and respected about the neighborhood The characters motivations behind the atrocious acts they commit are very believable, Akinti does a good job of making the reader understand the high suicide and crime rate among young black men in Britain.Told from the first person of three different characters, in a mix of past and present, this is a well constructed story The jumping of time and perspective is handled very cleanly I don t see how the story would be improved by a single perspective, for the story to have power, it s necesary to see the circumstances of the different characters close up. One morning during her early morning class, young Meina is unexpectedly removed and brought to speak with two policemen who inform her that her brother Ashvin is dead Ashvin and his best friend James had recently put a suicide pact into motion, both boys hanging themselves from two opposite tower roofs It is only Ashvin who succeeds in ending his life, leaving James behind full of feelings of guilt and irreparable despair When Meina discovers that the two boys acted in conjunction, she seeks James out to discover Ashvin s motives The two soon find themselves in a tentative relationship, their sadness giving way to love But James and Meina have outside conflicts that threaten their new peace James is the youngest brother of five, and all of his siblings are drug runners and arms dealers and his mother is addicted to crack Meina has escaped the war in Somalia after the brutal murder of her parents and is now at the mercy of a benefactor whose motives may not be pure As Meina and James struggle to cope with the violence and casual cruelties of their London tenement existence, they begin to discover that life s unexpected reversals have led to than their new relationship and they must find a way to leave their oppressive and stale environment behind to move on to a fruitful future In this raw and haunting debut, author Peter Akinti spins a tale of two lives caught in the midst of a terrible violence and the shattered dreams it inflicts upon its innocent bystanders.It is rare for me to come across a book like this This story is very gritty and filled with the frustration and sadness of people inhabiting a dim and violence charged world Akinti doesn t flinch at all in his tale and the anger and frustration burst off the page and burn into the reader s psyche like fire There are no missteps in this tale, no fumbling in emotion or intention, and often when I was reading, I was caught up in extreme feelings of anger The disillusionment of the characters was palpable and it seemed that no matter what they did or said, they were destined to be misunderstood and marginalized It was an extremely powerful book and one that made me reach into the deep recesses if my mind to formulate questions that I had previously given little to no thought to.The book begin with the death and attempted suicide of the two boys, and from there, the action focuses on the dual and shifting narrative of James and Meina Both the main characters have reasons to be broken and despondent both are filled with indignation at their circumstances But there is not only the anger of their shared suffering on the page, there is also a sense of their fleeting dreams and unrealized potential and the desperate wrestling of their hope for the future As the narrative winds on, I came to realize that these two would have to go to extraordinary lengths to find even a modicum of happiness for themselves To pull out of this desperate tailspin, they would have to be given the chance to start anew when everything and everyone was holding them back Their situation was indeed grim, and the answers to their problems involved their traveling down paths filled with pain and recrimination There were no easy answers for these two and it was a long uphill struggle for both of them.The book was filled with a scathing sense of social commentary Questions about identity, self worth and the age old repercussions of violence were deftly intertwined into the narrative, with both Meina and James acting as mouthpieces to these shared conflicts James speaks elegantly and at length about the stereotyping of black males and the ways that people try to defy these stereotypes in themselves and their community, only to find that they are beginning to embody everything that they are fighting against Meina speaks about the extreme liberties that have been taken of her body and mind, the confusion of war and the loss of self respect and self value Together they have a lot to say, and it is within these messages that the book seeks to be the fulcrum of change These messages are often biting and brutal, the lessons they impart hard won I thought that there was a strange beauty in these messages The dark meanderings of Akinti s soul took on a life and force that resonated in me profoundly and struck me deeply The fear that was etched into these characters was palpable and their expression of it not only sincere but frightening.Another thing I liked about this book was the earnestness of the dialogue Though most of it was caustic, it had a unique ability to also be reflective and to feel humble There were small snippets of dialogue that startled with their implications and penetration, and I felt that Akinti definitely succeeded in making his characters voices believable and authentic in a way that not many books of this caliber do The questions that the characters asked of each other and themselves were not only searching of themselves but of the wider community surrounding them.At the end of the book Akinti also provides an essay reflecting his early years in London This essay reveals that his life was plagued by many of the questions that his characters faced, and I saw a startling similarity between Akinti and his character James I thought that the essay was a brilliant companion to the story, as it really struck the roots of the societal damage that is inflicted on living breathing human beings.Though this book was very dark, it excelled in getting its messages across and driving home the realities of violence, subjugation and racism It was one hell of a powerhouse in terms of plot, character and in the driving home of its messages, and I highly recommend it as a read that crosses genres It is certainly a book that will make you think, and though the majority of the plot is mired in sadness, there does come a point where things begin to move towards the realm of hope and possibility Akiniti is a brilliant author, and I hope to read of his work when it becomes available to me Don t pass this book up Though it is far from gentle, it has the ability to change you in some very powerful ways. `DOWNLOAD BOOK ⇦ Forest Gate ☠ Akinti S Raw And Riveting Debut Novel Begins With Ashvin, An Angry Teenage Somali Refugee, And His Best Friend, James, On Opposite Rooftops In The Slums Of East London Preparing To Hang Themselves In A Suicide Pact Ashvin Leaps, Unable To Bear The Reality Of His Own Life His Activist Parents Murdered In Somalia His Brutal Rape At The Hands Of Ethiopian Soldiers The Constant Harassment By London Police And His Schoolmates The Endless Battles He Will Face As A Black Man In England He Leaves Behind Meina, The Beloved Older Sister He Had Always Tried To Protect James, A Lonely, Studious Teen, The Baby Of The Drug Dealing Morrison Clan, Whose Brothers Are Dehumanized, Violent Criminals, Desperately Wants To Escape The Family Business, But He Can T Imagine A Way Out When James Jumps, But Survives, Meina Seeks James Out, And They Try To Find Shelter In One Another Akinti, Himself A Product Of London S Council Estates Public Housing , Captures In Gracious And Resonant Prose The Fear, Anger, And Sadness Of Life In The Violent And Poverty Stricken Slums Of London S East End