6 May 2014



SOURCE: I was a giver of this on World Book Night.

For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot. And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past - from his father's harsh life in rural Punjab to the steps of the Wolverhampton Tourist Office - trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.
...... Outer back cover

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1: Life of Surprises}: Drinking alone needn't necessarily be a lowering experience.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 111}: I'd be embarrassed if I knew what any of the words meant or if I wasn't so preoccupied with the task of drying my hair in front of the electric fire. With my head bowed, I move around the heater with the efficiency of an automated kebab skewer, making sure each bit gets an equal amount of heat.

MY THOUGHTS: Reissued as The Boy With The Topknot, the original hardback copy was titled If You Don't Know Me By Now.

A book with so many aspects to it, a young boy caught between two cultures, a mothers experience of an arranged marriage beset in its early days by violence, a family coping with periods of mental ill health.The Boy With The Topknot though not without its humorous moments (albeit of a mostly self-depreciating kind) is not always an easy read, my enjoyment of it greatly marred by the authors self indulgent whining.

Inconsistently written. Whilst much of the book offered a personal insight there were times when it felt very much like a piece of journalism (hardly surprising given the authors profession of journalist) written to be as sensationalist as possible. 

Essentially what I felt was a missed opportunity. This memoir had the potential to offer such an amazing insight into so many big issues and yet I can't help but think its whole purpose was to help the author move on, to help him reconcile his issues.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission. In addition I would also urge that if you are reading this on any other page you contact the original blog owner/reviewer.


Stephanie Faris said...

That's too bad. It sounds like it could have been a great opportunity for a powerful story.

Kelly said...

I agree, it's a shame it didn't take the opportunity presented.

While I don't consider myself a cold, unfeeling person at all, I don't have a lot of patience for "self indulgent whining". (of course I occasionally do my own share of it, but certainly not on a platform viewed by others)

Let's hope it was indeed cathartic for the author.

Suko said...

Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts, Tracy.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

sounds like an exercise the author should have just used for himself...sorry it didn't really work as a memoir for others to read!

Cherie Reich said...

Thank you for the review! That's too bad it wasn't as good of a book as it could've been. The premise sounds really good.

Gina R said...

Sounds like the author had a hard time breaking out of their niche, but an interesting story nonetheless. Gotta say though, I like the original title far better than the second. To each their own! Thanks for the share!

Brian Joseph said...

Too bad that the book had so many shortcomings. I came of age in the 1980s so the period has its inevitable fascinations for me.

I think that The sensationalism is what would put me off the most.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

At lest it had some value even if only to the author himself. Still a great review, but I do think I'd pass on this one.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I appreciated hearing your honest thoughts. It sounds like an interesting premise- but sorry it wasn't more to your liking.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the honest review of this one Tracy. I picked it up in the library the other day but put it back, I'm not sure if I want to read it or not.

So many books, so little time said...

It's sad when this happens with a book, I read one a week or two back and felt the same.

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Betty Manousos said...

thanks for your great and honest review, tracy!

i think i'll pass on this one.

big hugs!

Literary Feline said...

How disappointing! I am sorry this wasn't better. :-(

I hope the author at least got some closure after sharing his experience.