Alcoholic. Douglas Stuart’s debut novel titled, Shuggie Bain, packs a wallop. Set in Glasgow, the novel offers a detailed exploration of the relationship between an alcoholic mother, Agnes Bain, and her son, Shuggie. Any reader who has lived in a household where alcohol was a problem will recognize Stuart’s insight into family dynamics and what happens when children have to assume responsibilities far beyond what’s age appropriate for them. Stuart excels at character development in this novel, and through multiple detailed descriptions of dysfunctional domestic life readers can share just a small bit of what it is like to live in a house with an alcoholic adult. Stuart seems to keep pounding away at readers with one sad episode after another that can make us weary. That’s part of the impressive power of this book: the text itself recreates the repetitive experiences of this family’s life. I highly recommend this novel to those readers who appreciate finely written literary fiction and those who find depth and insight from descriptions of domestic life, whether the same as what we’ve known ourselves or completely different.