June is Bustin' Out All Over
Meet . . . The Prodigal Son

Read With Us: Let's Talk About . . . Young Mungo


Welcome to Read With Us book discussion day

Bonny and Carole and I are each posting a different question (or a couple of questions) on our blogs today about our latest RWU book . . . Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. Join the discussion (which you're welcome do even if you didn't read the book).  I'll be answering your posts within the comment section for this discussion -- and you can comment on other people's comments, as well. Y'know . . . like in a real book group. (Please know . . . that because of the limitations of my blogging platform, Typepad, I can't "layer" or "stack" the comments in my comment feed and have them work. Sorry. Bear with me.)

Let's begin. . . 


First . . . I'd really like to know what you thought of the book. How did it make you feel? Did you like it? If you also read Shuggie Bain (by the same author) with us last year, which book did you like better?

Next . . . Author Douglas Stuart opted to structure Young Mungo with a dual timeline, jumping back and forth in time between Mungo's first-ever camping trip . . . and daily life events in Mungo's world during the weeks leading up to the camping trip. What did you think of this storytelling structure? Did it work for you?

Last . . . Young Mungo is a very intense read. I know many readers (myself included) needed to put the book down for a while after reading certain parts before they could continue on. Yet . . . most readers also chose to pick the book back up and continue reading. According to one interview I read with author Douglas Stuart, he had this to say about challenging his readers:

“I think good art's only obligation is to move you, to make you feel rearranged. If you're going to give me 16 hours of your time, then I'm going to try and move you as best as I can to make you think. I like to create an immersive world for my readers because I think most readers might never see a working-class community or people living with poverty or travel to Glasgow. … Before I'm a writer, I'm a reader. And for me, the thing I love most in a book is when I close the last page, I want to think, 'Don't go, stay with me, or tell me what you're going to do next.' And that's all I really tried to do with my books.”

So. Did reading Young Mungo make you feel . . . rearranged? If you put the book down at . . . oh, say the midpoint . . . did you pick it back up and continue on? Why? And how do you feel about the book now that there's been a bit of "space" between finishing the book and . . . today?

I can't wait to hear what you think!


Don't forget: We'll be discussing the book on Zoom tonight - 7:00 pm Eastern Time. There's still time for you to join us! Just let me know of your interest either with a comment or by sending me an email (see sidebar, above) -- and I'll send a Zoom invitation. 

PS - If you are planning to join us on the Zoom, but haven't received an invitation from me (I sent them yesterday), please let me know so I can get the Zoom link to you today.



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Great questions, Kym! Oh gosh, great questions! :)

Yes, I read both books but I loved Young Mungo so much. more than Shuggie Bain. So. Much. More. The writing was so incredible! It took me a minute (or a couple of hours, lol) to figure out the time line rhythm and once I did I liked what it did for the story. And let me just say... once I figure out Mo Maw's role in the camping trip, yes... I had to put the book down for a bit of time. I cried so much. So. Much. I was so angry at her... well at all of Mungo's "family" ... and that anger spurred me on to see what happened to that miserable lot of people. And what a surprise does Stuart deliver to us... not that I am an advocate of murder, but.... yeah. I had some bittersweet moments with Mungo. For me Stuart's message throughout the book was simple.... you can't count on anyone to save you but you. And he showed us that Mungo took his life lessons and used them... to save himself.

And the book is not all doom and gloom... Stuart shows us so many rays of sunshine. James, Mr. Calhoun, and the man who gives him the ride back to Glasgow.... some absolutely glorious rays of sunshine.

I can't wait for Stuart's next book. :)


From Kym . . .
Kat - I agree, Kat. While I was reading Young Mungo (and it took me a loooong time to get through it), I mostly struggled. BUT . . . I was certainly “rearranged” by reading it, and with some space, I’ve been able to fully realize its brilliance. I, too, think it’s better than Shuggie Bain (and I really, really liked Shuggie Bain). I just can’t believe what Douglas Stuart DOES to make all of his characters so complex and so REAL. He SO makes his readers feel all the feels! He certainly played with my emotions as a reader — sprinkling in the delightful “background” characters (all those you mentioned) and . . . that dual timeline. The time-jumps saved me so many times! When I felt like I couldn’t go on, he’d whisk me back to another part of the story and I was “saved.” :-)

I’m looking forward to the discussion tonight!


I found that this book was more emotionally difficult to read than his previous book, but I also thought that the writing was really beautiful and I did end up liking it more (though, like you and many others, I had to put it down for a bit when it got upsetting). I did struggle a bit with the dual timelines, but I think that was mainly because I was reading an ARC and there was no visual indication that it was switching, so I often had to go back and reread a bit when I realized that the timeline had changed. I expect with the final layout, it would not be an issue for me.

One big difference I noticed is that while Shuggie Bain felt a bit like a slog for me (parts of it moved soooo slowly), I really only stopped Young Mungo when the content was upsetting. The pacing felt better and I wanted to keep reading, when I could stomach it, to find out what would happen next.

Looking forward to tonight!


I almost decided not to read this book in chapter one, when Mungo is on the bus with St. Christopher and Gallowgate. I felt such a sense of dread. But I had to go back to it, after a long walk, because I knew this book was going to take me somewhere and show me a side of life I could not imagine on my own. I knew that was a privilege. After that, I finished the book pretty quickly and in the end, I found Mungo and James and Jodie and all the characters tumbling around in my head and heart for weeks. I read the book the week it was released and Mungo’s story is still with me.


Looking forward to the Zoom meeting tonight! As you know, I did not like the book AT ALL! And I did not read Shuggie Bain, so I can't compare. The book, as Bonny said, was just Too Much for me.


I liked this book more than Shuggie but not sure I like the ending at all. I don't usually like timelines that go back and forth but this one it was very clear which timeline you were in so it was easier to read for me. I recently read a book that went into the past then present and I really felt lost trying to figure out how old the character was and what year it was. I was reading a library book that I had to get back to the library so I didn't take any breaks but it was a slog a lot of the times depending what timeline we were in.

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