05 April 2018

Guestpost: Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy

Reading a book in the dialect that surrounds me day to day was such a pleasure. Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy is heartbreaking and tackles some difficult topics, but it manages to stay accessible and engaging. I am excited to welcome Malcolm Duffy to my blog with a rather important guest post relating to one of the themes of the book.

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm DuffyAdd to Goodreads
Humorous and heartbreaking debut novel with the fresh, funny, honest voice of a 14-year-old Geordie lad recounting the trials and tribulations of family life and finding first love.

Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him.

But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad.
The Dad he’s never met.

Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of­ places.

The Curse of Silence

I’ve always written. It’s what I do. It’s what I love doing. I was lucky enough to have a long career as an advertising copywriter, writing ads for dozens of different clients. I couldn’t believe that I actually got paid to do this. I’d have done the job for free. But while advertising was a lot of fun, it didn’t satisfy that yearning to create something longer, more meaningful. I was always on the look-out for a story to tell. That opportunity came when I was at Comic Relief, working as Creative Director. I visited a project in the West Country that helped women and children who’d suffered as a result of domestic violence. Here I met a young boy, who’d been traumatised by the events at home. I realised that there was a story to tell here. Domestic violence as seen through the eyes of a 14 year old boy. Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. was born.
But I knew that the story couldn’t just be about domestic violence. It needed to go much deeper than that. I began to think about the tales I’d heard about domestic violence. There was a common thread through all of them. Silence. Each person who had suffered kept things bottled up. Not forever. But for a length of time. Sometimes way too long.
Why would someone who had been beaten or verbally abused stay silent? There are many reasons for this. Shame, fear, financial restraints, even love. It’s a common trait of domestic violence for the victims not to speak out. They perhaps. put up with it hoping that things will get better, that the perpetrator will change, that it’s a one off. The problem is that it doesn’t. It has the opposite effect. It emboldens the perpetrator to do it again. It lets them off the hook. There is a terrible statistic in the book, that victims of domestic abuse will be beaten over thirty times before they go to the police. The victims suffer in silence, because of their silence. 
But it’s not just Danny’s mam who stays silent in this story. The three main characters, Danny, his mam, and his dad, all stay silent, and suffer the consequences. His mam stays silent about the abuse she’s suffering. Danny stays silent about what he’s seen and heard. His dad stays silent about the fact that he’s had a son. Each character should have spoken to someone. But they don’t, and they all suffer as a result. 
I didn’t want to write a preachy book, but I hope that there is a lesson here, that staying silent is rarely the best option. Keeping problems bottled up doesn’t solve them. It keeps them hidden, but not resolved. We’ve all done it. It’s human nature to not want to talk about the bad things we’ve done or that have happened to us. But sometimes it’s the only way out. To tell people what’s happened. There may be consequences for revealing the truth. But the consequences will often be far less than those which are born out of silence. 
In the book, Danny finally tells his mam what he’s done. It’s a terrible moment both for him and for her. As Danny himself says- ‘our silence had come back to punish us.’ 
Silence can do that. It can take a problem and magnify it, making it grow far bigger than anyone would wish for. Danny himself learns this harsh lesson. But he also learns something else, that there is a solution. 
It’s called talking.

2 comments:

  1. I've seen a photos of this on Twitter, but didn't have any idea what it was about till now. Will def be keeping an eye for it after reading this ��
    Amy x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved this post. I always like to hear more about the story behind someone's book.

    ReplyDelete

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