New novel centres of lives of Burnley teens

WRITER: Gavin James Bower
WRITER: Gavin James Bower

AN uncomfortable account of the lives of teenagers in Burnley forms the backdrop of a novel about the hit the nation’s bookshops.

Made in Britain, by Harle Syke-born writer Gavin James Bower, has been described as “as British as sex behind the bike sheds or a kebab shop punch-up”.

Mr Bower, who was educated at St James’s Primary School and Habergham High School, sets the scene among familiar landmarks, taking in Stoneyholme, Turf Moor, town centre takeaways, Harle Syke and Crown Point.

The novel tells the story of three teenagers, each from their own point of view, in the final year of high school. One has aspirations and the education to leave, but has no parental backing. The second becomes embroiled in violence, is forced to sell drugs and is set up as a fall guy for a powerful, nasty dealer. The third, a girl, dreaming of an escape, lives with her widowed father, a skilled man struggling to make ends meet.

His words sum up the youngsters’ despair: “It’s not just me. Nobody’s got any brass round ’ere. Business ‘as gone for a burton, but they talk about a credit crunch on t’news like it’s summat new. Credit crunch? This town’s been in recession for twenny years and what’s anyone done about it? Nowt.”

Like one of his characters, Mr Bower left Burnley to read history at Sheffield University. His parents still live in Burnley. He now splits his time between his home town and London, where his job means he has to spend an increasing amount of time.