by reviewing this and my second book, a novel, The Quiet Raging by Sherryl Jordan, tomorrow.
WEIRDO. MOSHER FREAK: IF ONLY THEY'D STOPPED AT THE NAME CALLING. by Catherine Smyth.
Twenty-year-old Sophie Lancaster was kicked and stamped to death by a pack of 'feral' youths at her local park in Bacup, Lancashire. Her boyfriend Rob Maltby was also set upon and received life-threatening injuries.
Their only 'crime' was to dress differently, as 'goths' or 'moshers' in the easy shorthand of the media, which cited the killing as another example of Broken Britain.
Catherine Smyth was the first reporter on the scene and remained at the heart of the story throughout. A mother herself, she writes evocatively of the impact it had on both the Lancaster family and Bacup itself.
Smyth has unearthed several anomalies: the police admitted initially attending the wrong park and the ambulance took 14 minutes to travel a distance of a mile in reaching the scene.
While relating the horrific nature of the attack, Smyth also focuses on the good to rise from evil - a town rallying in support of a stricken family, a mother showing incredible dignity and, most of all a campaign launched to inform the world of the grave dangers of intolerance. As one banner carried at a parade in memory of Sophie proclaimed 'Hate is easy - love takes courage'.
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): I will never forget that phone call.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 8): The youths were fascinated by the appearance of Rob and Sophie - the Goth-style clothing, individual hairstyles and Sophie with her dreadlocks and many piercings: more than 20.
MY THOUGHTS: Because of the horrendous subject matter of the book and the fact that part of its sale is donated to charity I feel almost petty in mentioning this but, feeling obliged to review it as I would any other book, I feel I must mention how frustrated I was that, peppered with spelling/typing(?) errors, it wasn't better written/edited.
The true story of two young people one of whom was murdered, the other badly beaten because of their alternative lifestyle, because of their 'goth' way of dressing, 'Weirdo. Mosher. Freak', though thankfully not quite as graphic in its descriptions as I had feared, is without a doubt a harrowing read, the narrative of the call to the ambulance service (complete with background noises) particularly so.
Written by local journalist Catherine Smyth who attempts to answer some of the questions surrounding the events of that fateful night, this is a fairly personal account in which, largely told in chronological order, the reader really gets a feel for many of those involved though, and perhaps rightfully so, the motives of Sophie's murderers are not as fully explored as they might have been.
Saved from being a totally unbearable read by the description of the outpouring of public grief, by the accounts of community spirit, by all the fundraising events, film festivals and peace demonstrations in Sophie's honour, whilst I can hardly say this is an enjoyable read I found it to be a surprisingly uplifting one.
NB. Profits from the sale of this book were divided equally between the author, publisher and the SOPHIE LANCASTER FOUNDATION.
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