This is a review of the 2012 book "The Tearaway" by Dean Williams. I always say that I don't really like the sob story books but I always seem to end up reading them! Although this is portrayed as that kind of book, it is actually more upbeat than a tale of abuse and is the story of a young boy's rebellion and survival where he never asks for pity but gives a frank account of his formative years.
The front cover gives a flavour of Dean's life; Banged up, in care, out of order and David Essex is also quoted saying that it is both 'hilarious and heart-breaking'. Set in Grimsby which is not too far away from my home town, Dean was born in 1972, a time when he believes abuse in the north was rife and in this respect, he considers his childhood and upbringing quite normal and nothing special.
Born to Andrea and Bob whom he rarely calls mum or dad in the book, Dean is abused by his father as a child and feels his mum is too scared to stand up to him so he ends up locked up in a cupboard for ages whilst his dad is on home leave from the trawlers. His dad is always telling him to 'man up' which gives Dean a complex for the rest of his life and he feels he has to constantly prove how fearless he is by fighting, stealing and causing trouble through his life.
I found the book quite jumbled to read, as though it was just his thoughts poured on to the page in not necessarily the right order. He begins to tell a tale then meanders off in another direction which can be quite difficult to keep up with. I don't think it'd be right anyway to say I enjoyed reading this as there is a lot of things that Dean has done that he is not proud of. But he doesn't seem to learn, constantly driving drunk, whilst banned, picking up points and fines and not paying them and avoiding court dates. The number of jobs he has is astounding, a lot of them he fails to keep for a long time and turns up drunk to work and admits he has a problem with authority and doesn't like being told what to do. The whole point of work is that generally you are doing what someone else tells you to do no matter how far up or low down the tree you are!
I know a lot of people would not like reading this and would not have a lot of time for Dean in his constant tale of scrapes and confessions. His football violence and fighting attitude is not impressive and to me does not make him a man or brave. He also has a few relationships that do not really go anywhere but result in a number of children (some sadly aborted) as he doesn't ever wear a condom and takes his chance picking up STDs with 'two baggers' (one bag on her head and one on his in case hers falls off). Clearly there are mental health and drug and alcohol abuse issues here which have marked Dean for life.
Dean is the first to admit his faults and shortcomings which is quite endearing in the book. Fortunately, in working for himself he seems to have now turned his life around and has things worth living for. Parts of the book irritated me, how he happily freeloaded for years off people without giving anything back and he really did land some very decent jobs that didn't seem to mean a lot to him. Yes he has had some bad luck and he has been at the bottom of the pile during his childhood but he has a bad attitude that comes out clearly in the book and a lot of the violence and problems in later life could have been avoided.