What’s it all about?:
It’s the first summer of lust for 14-year-old Jim Finnegan, a boy trying to become a man in 1980s Dublin. Jim’s vivid and winning voice leaps off the page and into the reader’s heart as he watches his parents argue, his five older sisters fight, and the local network of mothers gossip. Jim hilariously recounts his life dealing with the politics of his boisterous family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, dancing to Foreigner on his boombox, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar.
Over the summer, Jim wins the attention of a beautiful older girl-but he also becomes the unwilling target of a devious religious figure in the community. His life starts to unravel as he faces consequences from both his love for his girlfriend and his attempts to avoid the Parish Priest. When he and his girlfriend take a ferry for a clandestine trip to London, the dark and difficult repercussions from the trip force Jim to look for the solution to all his problems in some very unusual places.
What did I think?:
This is the March release from the Waterstones Eleven debut authors – please see my previous post HERE. The book follows a young boy, Jim Finnegan, through his early adolescence in Ireland during the eighties. The book starts with a punch, with the family cat being hit by a car and a young girl being hit in the face with a hockey ball all in the first few pages. The drama never ceases, as we become involved with Jim and his family of five sisters, and a paedophile priest who lures Jim into becoming an altar boy so that he can have his wicked way with him. Along with the torrent of sexual abuse that comes his way, Jim also falls in love for the first time with an older girl called Saidhbh (pronounced “sive” like “hive.”) Although the novel is incredibly disturbing because of the subject matter, the author manages to keep things light, with a sense of humour throughout, even in the darker and more shocking moments of the story.
The story is beautifully written with some wonderful memories of the eighties (Jimmy Somerville and the weird and wacky clothing get a mention), and the characters fantastically realised. However, I felt it really hit a bump with the ending which I was very disappointed by. I could almost deal with some of the spiritual and mystical parts… until it just hit my belief systems a bit too hard. (Somebody else please read it so I can talk about it with you!) Aside from that, it is a wonderful book which I would recommend and I think the author pulls off a dark subject with ease and panache.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):