Nataka Books Reviews:
Ugly Dogs Don't Cry
DD Armstrong has produced a gripping book. The strained relationship between best friends Kyle and Sideeq is captured in the acronym of the title, U.G.L.Y.D.O.G.S., You Gotta Love Yourself, Den Others Gonna See. Kyle feels Sideeq has betrayed this and himself but Kyle never gives up on his friend.
We could quote multiple passages of insight, wisdom and wit in this book. And for that reason, this book falls into the category #My100AfricanBooks list.
-- Review by Nataka Books
Nataka Books Full Review:
Ugly Dogs Don't Cry
Sometimes we cannot help ourselves and, in a good way, we judge a book by its cover, its title and the summary. We were looking forward to exploring the story of Kyle and Sideeq as they attend college in London as this book promised.
We expected a window into what the young ones think, they daily lives and challenges beyond the news headlines and passing college students on the street. In many ways, we expected to find out what being young today presents to the current generation !
DD Armstrong goes far beyond that in this gripping book. It took a while to get into the story while we meet the main characters, Kyle and Sideeq, their school friends and rivals, their interests and city challenges on the street for teenagers. Once the plot gets going, this is one of those books to read in one sitting. It is brilliantly paced, develops through multiple characters orbiting around Sideeq.
We learn new words which fittingly describe the setting. Sideeq notices the variety of ways young boys try to get the attention of girls. We meet Callers, Chasers and Armthrowers. "The Armthrowers were the suitors who did the call and chase all in one swift move." The regular greeting one hears in London is captured perfectly in the spelling, "Wha gwan?" Some sounds appear impossible to capture in the roman alphabet, but not for Armstrong's pen.
We appreciated the precise observation of the charaters and their funny insight. Who said one needs a 70-year old professor for insightful philosophy. Danny, who makes money, more than 300 pounds a day, by walking dogs observes, "Dog money is better than drug money, there's a lot less shit to deal with."
The style in the book reminded us of Siddharta by Herman Hesse. Whilst telling the story, a few philosophical insights lay the groundwork of what is to come. The book becomes much more than what will unfold. The author and reader have questions in mind presented as a subtext to upcoming events. This provides the thrill of sliding doors moment before the present takes its course.
This is a brilliant book employing a variety of dramatic tools for effect. DD Armstrong not only provides a window into young people's lives, we enter it, live our their thoughts and fears, experience the instatiable energy and bravery, attend events and walk the streets with them.
Young Swank provides the most memorable advice to Sideeq as events are about to take a turn for the worst, possibly irreversible. Having warned Sideeq against a decision she tells him, "...when high tide comes, friendship and honesty find little reward in wading in a mangrove of secrets. Both run the risk of being washed away."
The strained relationship between best friends Kyle and Sideeq is captured in the acronym of the title, U.G.L.Y.D.O.G.S., You Gotta Love Yourself, Den Others Gonna See. Kyle feels Sideeq has betrayed this and himself but Kyle never gives up on his friend even when his calls are not answered. At the decisive moment when taking his call could have made a difference, the friends are not able to hear each other. Will it be too late?
We could quote multiple passages of insight, wisdom and wit in this book. And for that reason, this book falls into the category of books to keep and read again. This is not simply a story of what unfolds, how and why but a dramatic examination of characters and lives lived fully. This is one of the #My100AfricanBooks list.
--Review by Nataka Books