A rare first-hand account of disaffected youth. Contains countless lessons for young people who might be attracted to crime (and anyone involved with them socially or professionally). Aged just fourteen and using the name ‘Sevens’, the author went from being a bullied child to leader of the Warriorz, a group of London street kids involved in graffiti-tagging and other crimes including a series of violent encounters. Eventually given a substantial custodial sentence for an attack with a meat cleaver on the London Underground, Justin Rollins became determined to steer other young people away from such a life.
The Lost Boyz tells the story of his descent into a form of madness in which self-destruction, anger, wanton behaviour and fear lie at the core. Not before has a book taken the reader so far inside the minds of troubled youths as the author and his companions—some of whom did not survive or also ended up in prison—gradually realise that there is no easy escape from their chaotic lifestyle. Their need to gain respect from and stay credible with each other stems from offending, alienation, living on the margins of society and crazy behaviour—all of which serve as barriers to rejoining the normal world and going straight. The book contains countless lessons for young people who might be attracted to crime just as it does for anyone interested in youth offending, gang culture, criminology, mental health issues or that period of modern English social history when the unofficial decoration of walls, fences, trains and buses became a telling symbol of disaffected youth.
‘This is simply 100% raw talent being unleashed right from the start … This book is a must-read for the prison population, academics and politicians’: Inside Time
‘A powerful and deeply emotive read… but through it all it has some incredibly important messages’: DLS Reviews (click for full review).
‘An unforgettable story of a violent and disturbed young man, who, despite spiraling out of control, is anchored by his friendships and the power of his gang community. Group work readers will likely identify this as a particularly significant aspect of the narrative’: Social Work With Groups
‘Reading this book is a little like living a nightmare, but you can always close the book, Justin Rollins actually lived this life; what a nightmarish time’: Graphotism
‘This book confirms that the effects of childhood trauma can take their toll on some individuals, depending on how they’re dealt with – and it also confirms that the age-old effect of peer pressure can really make young people do some crazy stuff … but there are some real dark moments in there so be prepared’: Keep the Faith
‘In writing this book, which was a long and painful journey for him, Justin hopes to lay his ghosts of the past to rest. And if it serves as a warning to even one kid who may be starting out on the same road, then it is a job well done’: Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, crime writer (from the Foreword) .
Launch and book signing at Waterstones Sutton – view the video here
Justin Rollins grew-up on the streets of south-London and was a one-time leader of a graffiti gang. Having served time for a violent crime he is now a professional graffiti artist and works with youth groups.
Noel ‘Razor’ Smith is the best-selling author of A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun and works for the prison newspaper Inside Time.