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It is 1981. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life, but abandoned by her philandering husband, she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town near Glasgow. As she descends deeper into drink, it is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. The miners' children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.