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I almost sank a boat with Taste the Bright Lights

Posted on December 1, 2015

Laura Canning Taste the Bright LightsMy book is 'boat-sinkably good'.

The latest review for Taste the Bright Lights:

'Boat-sinkably good.

'I live on a boat. 

'I got up yesterday morning, went ashore to get coal and turn the water on. It takes about fifteen minutes to fill the tank and as usual [I] set the timer. I settled down with a cup of tea and a book...This book.

'Two and a half hours later I suddenly became aware of my surroundings; the bilge pump had burnt out and the boat had several tons of water on board. 

'That gripping.

'The subject matter is grim but this is not a miserable book. The engagement with the reader with the protagonists is so strong that you share their joys and woes, completely forgetting your own perspective.

'The use of language is particularly skilflul: if the teens of Ulster are anything like their English equivalent, it would have been unreasdable if it had been verbatim, yet it sounds uterly authentic... Taste the Bright Lights is not just a ripping yarn, it throws an uncomfortably bright light on a murky world that I tend to ignore through ignorance.'                       

Here's the book

And here are some reviews. I think it's a decent book. Buy it here. Or here. And my journo stuff is here


'...surely destined for great things, one of those "important" novels that critics sometimes harp on about… All teenagers should read this book.'


'This is a powerful book that should be on all parents' buying list. Canning's writing is that rare thing in the world of books: original and totally honest. My teenagers loved this book and have given it five stars. After reading it, I totally agreed with them (another rare thing!).'


Taste the Bright Lights Laura Canning'Exceptional! I came across Taste The Bright Lights by chance and, having read some of the author's excellent journalism, bought it principally for my 15 year old son. I'd planned just to glance through it before handing it over, but was immediately captured by the powerful and witty writing. He didn't have to wait long, though - every spare moment during the next twenty-four hours was spent reading the novel.

'What is unusual about this book, refreshing in the rather grey world of young adult fiction, is the clarity and steady focus of the narrative voice. There are many incidents where a lesser writer would have lost courage in their character's own integrity and obtruded an authorial, moral tone which would have falsified the whole novel. Laura Canning resists both this temptation and the related mistake of using characters as symbols for issues, attitudes and prejudices. The result is a powerful, vivid and enjoyable book, very highly recommended for both adults and teenagers. Incidentally, although it is set in Northern Ireland, the experiences of the characters are those of urban adolescents across the 'developed' world and will be recognized as clearly in London or New York as in Belfast.'


'A witty, gritty and emotion-fuelled read. I bought this book, as I am interested in the work of local authors and was half-expecting the usual dumbed-down cliché-filled attempts to relate to Northern Irish living. Boy was I wrong! This book completely knocked me sideways. Laura Canning's portrayal of the forgotten and misunderstood youth of today is vivid and shocking. Told in the voice of 14-year-old Lisa the writing is perfectly pitched and displays an uncanny understanding of teenage angst. The book pulls no punches and shows a seedier side of life in the province. It is very cleverly written and the writer manipulates the reader's emotions not only by the gritty realism but also by what is left unspoken and unwritten by the troubled Lisa.

'I would heartily recommend this book to teens or adults. It's a page-turner and an eye-opener. It is fresh and original and speaks for the disenchanted voice of a generation much like `Catcher in the Rye' would have done to the youth of the 50s.'


'Under a bridge in CraigavonBrilliant and compelling... Taste the Bright Lights by Laura Canning is a great book. It's full of insights about life on the streets for kids today. Set in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, it's a troubles novel without the troubles. Bright Lights is zeitgeisty and edgy, while addressing universal concerns about abuse and neglect. It chills to the bone and hits you between the eyes with an almost visceral thrill of recognition - there are deep fundamental insights about Lisa's character that speak to the lonely, insecure child living inside each of us, no matter how hard we try to deny her existence. And that goes a long way towards explaining the universal pull of Lisa, the central character of the book. Taste the Bright Lights is a dark book, a dystopian coming of age novel, which paints a dark, picaresque picture of homelessness, while at the same time holding out just about enough hope and humanity to encourage hopes that Laura Canning will write a sequel. A brilliant book which should be on the syllabus of every secondary school.'


'Just finished this book and I can't rate it highly enough. Its what a teenage book should contain. It is a good example of how your life can spiral out of control with no warning and it addresses so called sensitive and taboo subjects in a refreshing way. Reading the book had me laughing one minute and almost crying the next. It is a tragic tale and well written and like others, I await a sequel.

'The language the imagery and the characters were absolutely convincing. If someone doesn`t make a screenplay/film of this there is something wrong as thats what it reads like. It is a work of complete honesty and authenticity. Laura Canning has managed to get into the head of a problem teenage girl and brings you with her in sympathy and a complete understanding of why someone would make the seemingly crazy choices she makes, you are left understanding how a child could end up going from a bad A to a horrendis B.'


'Excellent 1st book, hope there are more to come. The story just keeps you hooked and you have to follow Lisa's story. It is well written, witty and thought provoking.'


'…didnt want to set it down. wasnt to sure at the start im not a reader but gripped me from the first page and i truly didnt want it to end,what a story. my 16 year old daughter is reading it now and im watching her face and constantly asking what part are you on now knowing every part of it.its a book that any age or gender can read.'


The new book goes out to agents this week. It's actually even better. Loads more so - and the first 1000 words will be up here soon. In the meantime, and again, wannabe boat sinkers can buy Taste the Bright Lights here

Comment by CRAIG BIRRELL on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017...
Loved yet book. Especially the bridge inn part.aw the Best.
Cheers, Craig! Had many happy times drinking under the Bridge Inn. Although like Lisa I was a cider and not a Bucky lass :).

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