The Elected Member – Bernice Rubens

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‘The Elected Member’ won the Booker prize in 1971. It is the story of one man’s battle with drugs, and how his family cope with having a drug addict as part of the family. Norman is a bright, young Jewish boy living in a tight knit family in London’s East end. He has a promising law career ahead of him, but when a tragic event occurs Norman’s life begins to fall apart. His family struggle to deal with the series of events that follow. The story is told from each member of the family’s point of view. It is very moving, and although I have no personal experience of drug abuse it all seems very vivid and realistic. The drug taking is not glorified, as it can be in some books, and although Norman comes across as a deeply troubled man, you feel great sympathy for his situation.

I was totally gripped by this book. My only criticism is that there is no joy to be found anywhere. It leaves you feeling quite deflated and depressed. The writing is very accomplished, and even though you don’t necessarily want to be there, you are transported into the world completely. The descriptions of Norman’s hallucinations were particularly realistic.

Highly recommended – but have a box of tissues handy!!
4 out of 5 (point removed because it was so depressing!)


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