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The Rotters' Club

The Rotters' Club, by Jonathan Coe
I imagine that anyone who grew up in Britain in the late 1970s would really identify with this book. There were parts that I really identified with myself, even though I grew up in the US, in the south, and about 10 years earlier. But then there are the cultural milestones, as opposed to personal ones, and in the milieu of this book, the five protagonists are beset by the demise of the industrial base in the Midlands and the IRA terror campaign, among other things. Whereas my high school years were stamped (upon!) by the virulent white opposition to racial desegregation and the Vietnam War. So, not so different, really.
The protagonists are a gang of four schoolmates and the older sister of one of them. (The Rotter's Club of the title is Ben Trotter and his beloved big sister, Lois, whose names are of course mutated by classmates into Bent Rotter and Lowest Rotter.) The other three boys are Anderton, the class-conscious one whose father is a shop steward, Harding, the edgy rebel, and Chase, the aspiring journalist.
The four boys are trying to form a band for most of the book, and it self-destructs as soon as it is formed. One boy goes to London and gets sexually initiated by a posh young woman several years his senior. The shop steward is in the throes of an affair that can only end badly, and he is trying hard to keep his family in the dark. Another boy's mother has an abortive affair with a teacher. Industrial tension simmers, somebody gets blown up in a pub, somebody else spends several years mute because of the loss of a loved one. There is a lot happening in the book and you get swept up in it, but it is sort of hard to keep track, the cast of characters is so large and lifelike.