These Streets, Luan Goldie, book review: ‘Unsparing reflection on the dark side of gentrification’

Author Luan Goldie. Photograph: courtesy HQ

As the cost-of-living crisis bites, many of us are beginning to have that uneasy feeling of being a bit too close to the wire.

It is so comforting to think that destitution is not something that happens to people like you, but you’d probably be wrong.

Following her subtle exploration of ethnic identity in Homecoming, Hackney author Luan Goldie takes up the theme of social mobility in her third novel These Streets.

Jess is an outreach worker with a local theatre. She lives in a house near Stratford with her teenage children Hazel and Jacob, renting from a childhood school friend at mate’s rates, and things are looking up when she begins to fancy newly-arrived Ben.

But when her landlord decides to sell up and her workplace closes in the same month, life begins to fray quite badly.

Jess struggles to come to terms with the fact that the middle-class social groups she yearns to join are taking over the neighbourhood and pushing out people like her.

Hazel has her sights set on Oxford and Jacob has an encyclopaedic mind. Surely they are on their way up?

The jarring disconnect between aspiration and reality threatens to unravel both Jess’s family and her sense of who she is.

These Streets is at once an unsparing reflection on the dark side of gentrification and a page-turningly absorbing story of love, family and the desire to find contentment – themes that resonate with us all.

This is definitely one to put on your summer reading list.

The Citizen caught up with Goldie last year to ask about her writing process and what ‘home’ has meant to her during the pandemic.

These Streets by Luan Goldie is published by HQ. 2022. ISBN: 978-0-00-841967-7. RRP: 14.99.