Two boys. John and Kenny. One streetwise and football mad, the other cold and unfathomable.
It's 1975. The heart of London's East End. As John celebrates the Hammers beating Fulham in the Cup Final, Kenny tumbles out the door of the new people's house across the street having taken a beating of a different kind.
When the new school year begins, John befriends Kenny, defending him from the ridicule of his classmates. But when you become mates with someone as odd, as downright terrifying as Kenny, nothing is ever straightforward. Amidst the turbulent years of late seventies London, the lives of John and Kenny spiral out of control. They meet again, years later, and local villain, Ronnie Swordfish, is after Kenny's head. All John can do is watch. Kenny, he ain't saying a word. He never does.
So when Ronnie gives the order to fetch his three foot Samurai sword, John thinks the game's all but up. Thing is, he don't know the half of it...
Abide With Me is a story of football, friendship, and hope. And gangsters.
A story of how two boys walked blind into the darkness... and emerged as men.
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I read the book in print and its so specific to it's time and setting I kept hearing the words in the accent already, though through my American filter. Now I could hear the world of this fascinating book told as it was meant. It really enhanced the experience of an already superb book.
It's poignant, gritty, unexpectedly emotional at times. It's a coming of age tale, a crime story, a snapshot of London at a specific point in time. It all comes together in a fully realized world that transported me the way great books are meant to.
I had not. He nailed the tone and attitude of this book perfectly.
It would probably do well in one sitting. I gave it 3-4 days, but it's a compact story you could knock out in one afternoon or long car ride.
A great book made even better by a stellar read.