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Camden Book Club Pick: Roseghetto by Kirsty Jagger

It’s our first Camden book club pick and the book for June is Roseghetto by Kirsty Jagger.

Shayla is a journalist returning to her hometown of Rosemeadow after almost 20 years away. Roseghetto is from her point of view as a child as she recounts the trauma she experienced.

She experiences sexual violence at the hands of her own father while also witnessing her mother in a toxic relationship at the hands of her former boyfriend. Her mum later has two sons with her ex.

Roseghetto Has Heavy Subject Matter

For a very simply written book, Roseghetto covers very heavy subject matter. Domestic Violence is a massive talking point, as it is community housing, toxic relationships and other socio-economical issues, such as poverty.

What is incredibly unique about Roseghetto is that it is told through the eyes of an adult remembering childhood memories. As Shayla grows, her language changes to become more mature.

Gone Are The Old Buildings

Upon her return to Rosemeadow, Shayla finds the old housing she and her mother used to live in, gone as it has been demolished.

Despite the trauma, Shayla finds an escape with reading, a hobby she was encouraged to do by her grandfather from the moment she was born.

The story shows the evolution of how a happy relationship can go downhill so quickly. This is evident with Lauren, Shayla’s mother, and her union with her ex-boyfriend Rob.

Shayla’s Childhood In Roseghetto

At the beginning of the book, it is Shayla’s idea to have her mum send Rob a Valentine’s Day card. As Shayla gets older, Rob who was dismissive towards her but loving towards Lauren, becomes violent. He cannot hold down a job for more than a few days without being fired and is constantly drinking.

What’s more, is that are a lot of dismissive people that Shayla and Lauren are forced to interact with. This includes Rob’s mother, Mildred and his brother, Peter, who is abusive to his wife.

Lauren also has a love-hate relationship with her mother who criticises her for having three kids out of wedlock. Her parents never liked Rob, even when they were teenagers.

The Connection Between Shayla’s Dad And Unofficial Stepdad

Mildred reveals that there is a connection between Richard, Shayla’s father, and Rob.

She mentions that Richard and Rob went to the same high school and Richard bullied Rob for something terrible. Mildred, despite being the horrible woman she is, implies that her son doesn’t like Shayla because she reminds him of his teenage tormentor.

Rob attempts to make Shayla feel like she doesn’t belong in their ‘family.’ He has her take a picture of him, Lauren and the boys.

Shayla is more of a second mother to her little brothers than Rob is a father to them. He doesn’t once hold them, cuddle them, comfort them when they cry, or feed them. Rob even goes so far as to have Lauren treat Shayla like crap. He even threatens Lauren with death if she ever tries to take Nash and Joe away from him.

Lauren’s Longed For Escape

Lauren, towards the end of the book, longs for an escape from her situation with Rob. Shayla mentions her mother watching several movies where women attempt to flee their violent husbands. She thinks back to when she and Rob started dating as teenagers and how he threw a male friend of hers down the stairs out of spite.

Everything comes to a head when Shayla finds Rob has been recording her with his new video camera. Lauren catches her partner pinning her daughter to the wall and screaming in her face. Demanding an answer, he claims that he was recording Shayla because he thought she was destroying the heater and not his youngest son, the baby Joe.

Lauren kicks Rob out and ends the relationship once and for all. However, he shows up at the new house more than he should. This causes friction with Shayla, who has just entered her first relationship.

Shayla’s Poor Relationship With Her Mother

Tired of being treated poorly by her mother, Shayla starts self-harming and develops an eating disorder. After her mother stops him from showing up at the house, Shayla starts dating someone else after her boyfriend dumps her. She is then sexually assaulted by her new boyfriend twice. There are even a few thoughts of suicide.

Lauren is well-trained by Rob to treat Shayla like trash.

Things start to look up for Shayla when she runs into her ex. He wants her back despite having a fiancée who is heavily pregnant, who happened to be his rebound after he broke up with Shayla. Also, this happened after Shayla’s beloved grandfather was admitted to the hospital after having a heart attack. He survives surgery and recovery but suffers a fatal heart attack soon after.

A Grandfather’s Wisdom

Before his death, Shayla and her grandfather talk and he tells her to make something of her life. She gets her grades up and starts rebuilding herself and decides she wants to be a writer. That’s when she picked journalism as a career course.

Lauren, despite having broken up with Rob, still allows him into her life. Their boys hate him and refuse to stay at his house for even one night. Shayla has to point out to her that while Rob, isn’t as bad as her father, he’s just “another kind of bad.” Finally, it clicks with her.

Rob gets kicked out of Lauren, Shayla and the boys’ lives when Shayla tells Rob to his face that she does more for her mother and brothers than he does. She works, cleans and pays the rent while he does bugger all.

Fast forward to the epilogue and Shayla talks to a demolition guy about her experience upon seeing where she used to live no longer exists. It also inspires her to write a book.

For next month’s book, One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, please check it out here.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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