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The Fields

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A warm and funny debut novel about a young man in trouble and a family in love and in pieces.

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.

The Fields is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary character. It's a portrait of a boy who sinks into troubles as he grows into a man, and the loving but fractured family that might be his downfall -- or his salvation. Lyrical, funny, and endlessly inventive, it is a brilliant debut from a remarkable new voice.

390 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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Kevin Maher

9 books14 followers

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5 stars
127 (15%)
4 stars
266 (32%)
3 stars
289 (35%)
2 stars
101 (12%)
1 star
36 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
September 18, 2013
There are parts of this book that are really good and then there are parts that just make you shake your head. The books starts well with the story of young Jim growing up in the mid 1980's in Dublin. There are a lot of humorous moments and you think this is a feel good book. Then it takes a gigantic turn when something awful happens. This part has a of depth of feeling and you think it's going to be exploration of the aftermath. No. It takes another turn and goes into absurdity. It's like three separate books.

First of all, it needed some good editing. Is this a lost art? There are some slip-ups that make you cringe. For example, it's the mid 1980's and the boys go on a camping trip with their randy priest. They make gluten free pancakes. Really? In the 1980's no one knew the word gluten let alone made products for it. It also has no sense of place. Although this book takes place in Dublin supposedly it could have been anywhere in Ireland. There was really no incorporation of the city to the story.

The last part really makes me cringe. Jim is in London and runs into an old friend. They go to this spiritual awakening place that tries to make Jim a healer in two weeks. Never mind it normally takes 5 years. This sets up one of the most absurd endings I have read in awhile. It almost made me weep. This could have been a good book but clearly lost its path. Such a waste.
Profile Image for R.
34 reviews60 followers
August 22, 2013
Everyone who picks up this book about abuse and abortion in mid-eighties Dublin will walk away with one huge question reverberating around their soul.

Jesus, were the eighties really three decades ago?

Though technically, that should be Jaysus, because, as mentioned, this book is set in Ireland. And it’s a very Irish book. Yet although its action unfolds a good thirty years ago (I’m not going to stop saying that until it sinks in) The Fields deals with issues that are sadly all too contemporary. The death of Savita Halappanavar late last year after being refused an abortion is proof, were any needed, that despite proudly harbouring the European bases of Google and other forward-thinking companies, the Republic of Ireland can still be as backward-looking as any Thatcherite conservative.

The same goes for the novel’s other Big Issue—clerical abuse. With the media furore surrounding the election of Francis I, it might be all too easy to forget the paedophilic scandals that dogged his predecessors. Though things will thankfully never be as catastrophically bad as the period in which The Fields is set (a 1986 edition of Irish magazine Magill claimed that one in four Irish girls had been sexually abused by 18) it is well to remember that molestation—clerical or otherwise—is not yet a thing of the past.

But if these awful, miserable words—words like “abuse” and “molestation” and “clerical”—have you grimly anticipating 300 misery-filled pages, take heart. You could not be more wrong. With this clever, witty debut novel, film-critic turned Times-columnist Kevin Maher has written a book that is by turns touching, lighthearted and darkly hilarious. It’s convincingly narrated by fourteen year old Jim, and while it never shies away from the tragedy and horror, some of the book’s funniest moments occur just after—or during—its bleakest events. This is not only refreshing, but realistic—kids continually fashion blunt jokes from things adults would euphemise into oblivion—and it nurtures a current of optimism befitting a story that is, after all, the tale of a teenage Dubliner drinking, shagging and dancing to bad disco. Yup. Angela’s Ashes this isn’t.

If there is any criticism it must be confined to small patches, most obviously the beginning and end. The book opens with the family cat having its head run over (spoilers: it dies) and while this is half-heartedly referred back to a few times throughout the rest of the narrative, it feels a bit like an artificial attempt to start things off with the Weighty Subject of Death. And the controversial ending, while brave and unconventional, could just as easily be described as a confusing copout. But this matters little when compared to the overall achievement—dealing maturely with growing up in Ireland amidst the shadow of clerical abuse yet never taking itself too seriously; taking on the largest of topics while remaining fun, pacey, and above all entertaining; writing about smalltown boys in the eighties (three decades!) while still appearing fresh and contemporary.

Like Hooked on Classics, the 1981 album referenced throughout (along with Boy George and Jimmy Somerville) The Fields is old music set to a new beat. It’s just a shame the issues it confronts aren’t yet as distant as big hair and shoulder pads.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,393 reviews7,247 followers
September 4, 2013
At the start of the book, I was reminiscent of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs”. I thought it would be a lighthearted coming of age story of a young boy – Jim would be similar to Eugene and I’d just swap a Brooklyn backdrop with Ireland. Weeeeeeeellllll, mayhaps I should begin reading book jackets a bit more carefully because “The Fields” soon took a drastic turn when the subject matter got heavy and I realized that Jim’s local parish priest was a devout member of the Loyal Order of the Kid Bangers.

To briefly sum it up, Jim indeed grows up in these 390 pages, but with some of the most wretched experiences imaginable. He goes from an inexperienced 13-year old whose favorite hobby is bicycling around town with his ultra-nerdy pal Gary to getting “Sanduskied” by the priest, experimenting with drinking and sex, becoming a dropout, and everything eventually culminates in a school of new-age healing.

The worst part is, I still laughed (not at the kid boffing bit – I’m not a complete animal), but poor Jim is so absolutely daft that, miserable as the subject matter may be, I chuckled. And yes, I have prepared my handbasket in which I shall go straight to Hell.
Profile Image for Rebecca Stevenson.
25 reviews4 followers
November 3, 2013
I was confused at first because the book started off feeling like a memoir about a guy with a crazy Irish family... and it's true, it was. Nonetheless I grew to appreciate the humorous parts when the book got into some really tough territory, namely the sexual abuse of the main character by the local priest. I have a lot more simpathy for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy. At the same time, the author did a good job of countering the bad priest with the main character's hero, a good priest. Maher seemed to be doing the same thing by creating a gay character that stood up for Finn. I thought this author really pulled this story off in a way that I have not read in a long time. There were a few weaknesses in the storyline, like the stuff about the 'healing', Saidhbh's character development toward the end (which seemed a little over-the-top and unrealistic) and the fact that the side stories felt superfluous and overindulgent at times. However, I loved the characters themselves and I thought the writing was solid. I couldn't put this book down.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,635 reviews26 followers
December 27, 2017
The narration and story are UNeven a lot of the time. There are parts that are very unbelievable and left me wondering what the point was. Nonetheless it had some entertainment value. I felt that publisher decided to hype this book for some reason. The author was born in Dublin but now lives in Britain - maybe he has connections there.

* I edited this to change even to uneven. Boy I need to read more carefully. Also I changed my rating from 3 to 2 stars.

Looking back at this I want to add that a friend who grew up in inner Dublin hated this book. It was widely hyped in Ireland when first published, but didn't take off - apparently because readers didn't take to it.
Profile Image for Ell.
95 reviews4 followers
January 14, 2015
The five-star rating here is giving The Fields benefit of the doubt.

So why the benefit of the doubt?

It might be because I just finished a day of binge-reading less than ten minutes ago (which speaks volumes about the book anyway) and am still feverishly overexcited about what I just read.

Or it might be the strength of the narrative and Jim's narrative voice. The style of prose, wavering on the edge of stream-of-consciousness and always slightly manic, is fantastic - I read everything in an Irish accent without having to try, and it feels like Jim Finnegan is frantically recounting everything that happens in front of his slightly drunk close friends. He's still the same excitable, irreverent, dirty-minded and big-hearted kid at the end of the novel as he was at the start, even after a bewildering and gut-wrenching string of events that are by turns wonderful and devastating. But mostly the latter.

I delighted in Jim's (often inexplicable) triumphs, laughed at the constant stream of jokes that kept the tone of the book fundamentally light, despite the subject matter, and -- not cried, but let out a sort of quiet ohing sound when O'Culigeen in general, or Saidhbh's mental illness in particular, came into play. Jim is in over his head for the entirety, and the whole point of the narrative seems to be that he doesn't quite realise it. He's too young to be dealing with this, and he hasn't a clue. If he does realise that he's being forced into manhood at fourteen by two catastrophic relationships (O'Culigeen and Saidhbh), not to mention his father's cancer diagnosis, then the tone itself is his way of coping. The other driving force behind the book, its only discernible "point", is addressed subtly and sensitively - religion (and possibly "loving flags and history books more than you love people") can be an extremely negative influence on young people and their relationship with their families.

This is all well and good, and the book definitely stands on its own merit, so why was there any doubt about the five-star rating in the first place? Putting aside my tendency to rate every book I read five stars because I only finished it five minutes ago and I'm still hopelessly in love with the world and the characters. Especially young adult ones.

Well, as I've already said, I have no idea what to make of the third act or the ending. I think that reading both the second and third sections of the book in a day was a bad move, no matter how addictive the feverish abandon of the prose. It was too big, and too bittersweet, to properly digest. "Bittersweet" seems like it was made to describe this book, come to think of it. Anyway, I'd describe the second act as "sweet" and the third act as overwhelmingly bitter. There is a satisfying ending; again, I mentioned that before. But the satisfying ending is achieved through an awful, awful plot device involving mystics. It reminds me of the second half of Geekhood by Andy Robb, in which Archie, the protagonist, follows a girl's misguided advice and starts believing in New Age bullshit to win her heart, nearly destroying his friendships in the process. Unlike Archie in Geekhood, however, Jim never really abandons the New Age bullshit, to my considerable irritation. Jim blindly following something because of an annoying minor character tipped the mournful themes of the final chapters into self-pity and sentimentality.

I actually think the New Age thing could have worked, if it was handled differently. Instead, it seemed rushed, crammed into an already overcrowded storyline, and goes beyond "the vaguely unreliable narrator seems to think this spirituality lark works" when he starts seeing and interacting with chakra orbs, which, regardless of the tone, comes off as dismissive of everything that happened beforehand - making a believable ordeal in a work of realist fiction look a bit silly.

In the end, however, some kind of redemption is achieved, even if it the way it was achieved involved New Age healing techniques that should have been a minor plot point at best. It's probably the only way to end on an optimistic note. I also think his "astral healing" routine was why he lost Saidhbh in the end, and that makes me far more angry than it should've. Like I said, I haven't had enough time to slip out of Jim's shoes and enter the real world once again. I'm giddy with excitement at having finished The Fields, and that ecstasy is very much in the spirit of Jim Finnegan and his fantastic, tragic adolescence. It's why I love young adult novels -- in the end, I can relate on some fundamental level. And it's why I'm giving The Fields the benefit of the doubt.

Profile Image for Jonkers Jonkers.
Author 4 books5 followers
March 24, 2017
I found this an absorbing read but I didn't find it 'laugh out loud' as I have seen it described. There are some great moments of humour, much of it very dark, but above all there was a powerful and provocative novel facing some major issues such as child abuse and abortion. It is very hard-hitting and not for anyone with a delicate constitution, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Not convinced about the ending or else I may have given it a 5. Fascinating and a 'grabber'.
Profile Image for Tracie.
409 reviews
May 7, 2019
Interesting. I read it based on a recommendation that it would be a great read for fans of “Derry Girls”. It wasn’t. Not a bad book but a misleading recommendation that lead to disappointment. But it’s not the first time I’ve been lured in by a comparison like this.
Profile Image for Quanti.
701 reviews26 followers
November 20, 2013
(Recenze pro bux.cz s poděkováním za recenzní výtisk.)

Anotace občas zavádějí. Když jsem brala do ruky Pole, počítala jsem, že si přečtu mrazivý, možná až hororový popis osudu chlapce zneužívaného kněžími v bigotním Irsku 80. let. Z Polí se ale vyklubalo něco úplně jiného – příběh jednoho složitého dospívání, kde zmíněná událost je jenom jedním z dílků skládačky. Popravdě, první dojem, kterého jsem se úplně nezbavila do konce knížky, mi evokoval Mládí v hajzlu (Deník Nicka Twispa). I tam hlavnímu hrdinovi táhne na čtrnáct a uvádí čtenáře do svého života, kde hraje jako u většiny puberťáků důležitou roli probouzení vlastní tělesnosti, bezprostředním jazykem plným hovorových slov a vražedné upřímnosti.

Jim Finnegan (jméno ne náhodou připomíná poslední dílo Jamese Joyce) je nejmladším ze šesti dětí a bydlí ve fiktivní dublinské čtvrti Kilcuman, situované ve „slušnější“ jižní části města. Ostatních pět jsou dívky: rodiče byli odhodlaní to zkoušet, dokud nedojde na syna. Pro Jima je někdy náročné vyjít s pěti sestrami, ale přes všechny výhrady má svoji rodinu rád. Rodinné historky a zážitky zní důvěrně blízce, i když se odehrávají půl Evropy daleko a zahrnují swingball, Connemaru, show Bennyho Hilla, oddělené chlapecké a dívčí školy a neodmyslitelné návštěvy mše.

Nečekala jsem, že mě Pole až tak vtáhnou, ale stalo se. Nejdřív jsem je nedokázala odložit, protože jsem čekala, KDY (a JAK) k tomu zneužití dojde, a potom kvůli zvědavosti, CO se bude dít dál. A děje se toho spousta, protože Pole jako by soustřeďovala všechny možné komplikace, které se dospívajícímu irskému klukovi můžou stát – trable s rodinou, kamarády i láskou, hledání svého místa ve světě a k tomu ještě potřeba zaujmout postoj ke své národnosti, jelikož být Ir v polovině osmdesátých let není nijak zvlášť prestižní záležitost.

Název románu vychází z irské lidovky, která hraje v ději určitou roli, zásadní jsou ale i skladby tehdejší populární hudby, propůjčující jména velké části kapitol. Není vůbec těžké ani pro čtenáře o generaci mladší vžít se do tehdejší doby a do hlavních postav (a kdo by chtěl, může si z „doprovodných skladeb“ pustit soundtrack na YouTube). Ty jsou vyprofilované tak dobře, že máte pocit, jako by to byli vaši sousedé: vypravěč Jim mi byl s každou stránkou sympatičtější a každý z nás má v okolí nějakého toho sígra Mozza, stydlínka Garyho nebo vtipnou a chápavou sestru Fionu.

Minimálně do tří čtvrtin byla Pole jednou z nejlepších knížek, jaké jsem v poslední době četla. Pak se něco stalo, vyprávění začalo pomalu uvadat a ke konci mě hnala spíš než dynamika děje zvědavost, čím bude tohle dílo vrcholit. A konec mi, popravdě, nesedl. Měla jsem a doteď z něj mám dojem, jako když začínáte rozvíjet hodně slibný vztah – a najednou ho utne nějaká úplná banalita. Sedíte, ještě tomu vlastně ani moc nevěříte, a přemítáte: je tohle vůbec možné? Mohl(a) mi tohleto udělat? Nebyla chyba ve mně? A možná ano, každý autor má pochopitelně možnost podniknout se svými postavami, co se mu zlíbí. To, že jim věříte a připadá vám, že je znáte už bůhvíjak dlouho… to je jenom váš problém.

Mějte to na paměti, než se začnete s postavami nějak moc kamarádíčkovat. U některých knížek to jde, jako v mém letošním knižním vrcholu Než jsem tě poznala, jinde byste si je měli držet trochu víc od těla. Ale neznamená to, že byste kvůli tomu měli Pole předem zavrhnout. Naopak, určitě stojí za přečtení, zvlášť jestli máte trošku vztah k Irsku, dospívající mládeži, hudbě 80. let nebo Nicku Twispovi. A samozřejmě toleranci k některým drastičtějším a kontroverzním tématům.
Profile Image for Katherine.
339 reviews143 followers
June 28, 2013
I received my copy free through the Goodreads First Reads giveaways.

Tackling issues like abortion rights and sexual abuse at the hands of a priest certainly take some nerve, especially for a debut novel. But somehow, Kevin Maher manages this with an overall sense of optimism throughout his coming of age tale, The Fields . While the subject matters covered may be heavy in nature, don't expect something that will bog you down. Maher creates an interesting space between cause and effect, all with the realistic thought of "what if" placed delicately in the foreground.

It's a book that swiftly begins with death before you're fully introduced to the protagonist, young Jim Finnegan, and the simple act of imagining a different ending to the one that's transpired. And it ends, without giving too much away, with a similar train of thought, better articulated, from the perspective of one much changed and with an elegance to prove it. The narration of the story by fourteen year old Jim convincingly portrays an Ireland from the perspective of one just trying to become an adult. And as this natural task becomes more complicated, so does the story.

I was pleasantly surprised by Maher's success at maintaining a humorous atmosphere, even when painting dark visuals. And all the while the story sustains it's realism, never becoming too improbable. His descriptions of Ireland in the 80's are fun and fond, and the dialect is extremely readable. I somehow managed to keep the Irish accent going in my head as I was reading and I'm absolutely terrible at doing that usually! I believe where it falls short is in the development of the cast around Jim. While he grows into a more realized form of himself, others are left behind and even forgotten. This may be legitimate, and even realistic, but in the end Maher is telling us a story and I don't think it was beneficial to the plot to let some fall wayside.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy strong characters facing adverse and relevant conflicts but with a wit that sets them apart. Maher successfully captures this vitality, as well as it's opposite, while managing to support an entertaining story without feeling sorry for the fractures along the way.
Profile Image for Beth (bibliobeth).
1,891 reviews52 followers
May 7, 2013
Three and a half stars if I could...

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.

Please see my full review at http://www.bibliobeth.wordpress.com


Profile Image for Kwoomac.
811 reviews32 followers
February 5, 2014
The story takes place in Dublin in 1985. The author makes many many references to pop culture. Initially fun, but it was too much. The protagonist is 14 year old Jim Finnegan and he's dealing with all the typical teenage issues. I felt like the author tried to do too much in this one book, he was juggling too many story lines. Any one of those would have made for a better book. This is a serious book, so ignore the blurbs which refer to it a "funny", "a laugh-out-loud read", "often hilarious". Nope. Did we read the same book?

At one point near the end, Jim gives a moving speech which I'm sure was supposed to make the reader cry. I didn't care about Jim and I certainly didn't cry. The only time I enjoyed Jim was when he was working at the Mexican restaurant, the rest of the time he was too angsty.

Also, I had a hard time believing in the romantic relationship between a barely 14 year old boy and a 17 year old girl. My brother is just 15 months younger than me and my friends and I thought they were soooo immature. Trust me, no one considered them dating material. So, yuck, didn't like that whole piece. The author could easily have made them the same age and not lost anything. Why didn't he?

So, two stars for setting and atmosphere. This was Maher's first novel. I kind of feel like a jerk rating it so harshly.
Profile Image for Johanna C. Leahy.
6 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2014
I don't normally write reviews with my rating but as this is an unusually low rating for me, I feel it's only fair to explain why.
I really tried to persevere with this book, and wanted to like it, but by 25% I couldn't push myself any further. There is some great writing and insights but there is a lot of tedium as well and once I started skimming through sections at a house party that goes on for pages and pages but only moves the story along a smidgen, I gave up. A good editor could have made all the difference here and it was hard not to think that this was a first novel, from a writer with a lot of promise, that should either have been radically rewritten, or left in the drawer as a learning experience on the way to the very fine novel which I think this author may have in him.
By the way, I was a teenager in Ireland in the 80s and 'got' most of the cultural references and social observations. This didn't make the book any more interesting unfortunately; perhaps it even served to make the book (for me) seem dull and unremarkable in its scope.
Profile Image for Ema Mele.
99 reviews29 followers
January 15, 2019
Četla jsem dávno předávno v anglickém rukopise a pamatuju si, že mě to tehdy úplně rozsekalo. Měla bych si to přečíst znovu.
Profile Image for Marek.
935 reviews9 followers
June 8, 2021
Jedná se o první knihu (debut), kterou autor napsal. Kniha má 3 části. Zpočátku jsem zvažoval, jestli knihu vůbec dočtu do úplného závěru. Napadlo mě, že si raději vyberu jinou knihu a tuto knihu odložím na jindy. Nakonec jsem se postupně prokousával knihou a zdárně jsem se dostal na konec knihy. Knihu hodnotím průměrně.

Autor čerpal ze zážitků vlastního dospívání. V knize se vyskytují autobiografické prvky. V knize jsou nastolena témata násilí extrémních nacionalistů a zneužívání dětí duchovními. Tato témata nejsou v irské literatuře příliš zpracovaná.

Hlavní postavou je Jim Finnegan, kluk z Dublinu. Je mu 13 let. Seznamujeme se s jeho kamarády, s jeho rodinou (má 5 sester), sledujeme běžné problémy kluka, který je v pubertě. Bylo mi sympatické, že jezdil na kole ve svém okolí. Zamiluje se do starší kamarádky.. Jim prožívá také krušné chvíle, ale připadalo mi, že se svým problémem příliš nebojuje, jakoby to svým způsobem přijal, ačkoliv trpěl. Na jeho místě bych více bojoval, ale z druhé strany si uvědomuji, na jakém místě se nacházel a že to vůbec nebylo jednoduché, aby se třeba někomu svěřil. Negativní prožitky hlavního hrdiny se autor snažil zlehčit a psal je odlehčeně, nebyly vyhroceny do takové míry, jak bych očekával, ale to byl autorův záměr. V knize si můžeme udělat názor na vztahy mezi Iry a Angličany. V knize se dočteme také o léčitelství, což byla celkem zajímavá část. Závěr knihy mi připadal přitažený za vlasy a řekl bych nevěrohodný. O závěru knihy jsem dlouho uvažoval..

Čtení se mi zpomalovalo v důsledku složitých anglických jmen, která autor vymyslel. V knize se také vyskytují vulgarismy. Za negativum považuji také to, že autor v přímé řeči nepoužívá uvozovky.

V DOSLOVU se autor svěřuje s následujícím: "Samozřejmě jsem nikdy nechtěl napsat román o pohlavním zneužívání dětí duchovními. A aby bylo jasno, moje první knížka žádný román o zneužívání dětí není. Ani zdaleka. Je to román, který jsem naopak dlouho napsat chtěl, totiž příběh dospívání v Dublinu osmdesátých let, který měl mít spád, být čtivý a místy třeba i trochu legrační... jenže jsem také chtěl, aby byl věrný skutečnému životu v Dublinu té doby.."
6 reviews1 follower
November 3, 2021
As noted by other reviewers, this book is split into three parts. The first is an amusing and evocative romp through the world of a young teenage boy in 1980s Ireland, living with his parents and five sisters in a small house in Dublin. Full of cliches about Mammies gossiping, life in a boys’ school, Irish-speaking families, but enjoyable nevertheless. The second part is darker, dealing with a paedophile priest and the plight of pregnant young women who have to travel over the water to get a termination. The last part descends into almost farce, and the ending is ludicrous. I gave it 3 stars because the writing is good, and quite funny in parts, and because I enjoyed the evocation of 80s Ireland and the Irish in London. But this book doesn’t really know what it is. An easy read though.
Profile Image for Kezia.
19 reviews20 followers
June 13, 2017
3&1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this book, I love the POV and the Irish voice, I liked his family and the way the author wasn't afraid to use the word rape (and also how they described the whole situation) but the ending?? I felt like I'd accidentally picked up another book! I enjoyed the trip to London and his work experience in the restaurant and even when he started going to healing classes but from when he healed the chicken onwards it just felt like a different story. I don't think it fit in with the authentic feel of Irish family and with his sad and shocking experience with Father at all and that spoilt it for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Greenockian.
313 reviews7 followers
August 29, 2018
I enjoyed this book's depictions of family life and the ins and outs of friendships and of the difficulties of adolescence. The use of language is spot on and helps to evoke time and place very effectively. Some of the subject matter will probably be too much for some readers (i.e. child abusing priests and abortion) but these are real issues and the author has the right to address them; they do sit a bit at odds with each other however. The problem though is the ending which I can only describe as "odd". Read it for yourself and see if I'm right - if not you'll have rated the book even higher than me; not a bad thing then, eh?
Profile Image for Tracy Davies-jones.
93 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2022
This book is a rollercoaster of feelings. I enjoyed reading about this Irish family and it was very true to life as a teenager in a family of this size and in 80’s Ireland. There were parts where I laughed and parts that I felt were very endearing. I liked the coming of age story and it took me back to my teenage years. There were parts to the book where I shook my head with sadness and frustration. I found the book to be an easy read but I found the last part of the book a bit of a struggle, a bit pointless and strange, almost unbelievable and rushed and I was a little disappointing by the ending but overall this was a good book and enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Kim.
477 reviews7 followers
February 10, 2018
WTF? That was my first thought when finishing this book. The ending was ridiculous. If I hadn't been reading this on my Kindle I would have thrown it across the room. When I first finished this it was a 2-star book, but after a few days to think about it I've decided to give it 3. It started out very promising. It was a well written and interesting first-person perspective of a boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980's. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there and the author had an annoying habit of spoiling the plot for the reader in the first sentence of the chapter.
104 reviews4 followers
October 12, 2017
This book started out so incredibly strong. If I had only read the first two sections, I would have rated it 5 stars. So much of it was so well written. But the third and final section of the book was all over the place, and to me, not in a good way. It was a bit of an effort to get through. Still, because the earlier parts of the book were so entertaining and well done, I recommend this book to folks who like to laugh and aren't afraid to read about uncomfortable situations.

393 reviews
March 15, 2022
Mostly readable and even entertaining but over long for the material and there were parts that could have been skipped without any loss of plot. Towards the end the author seemed to struggle about how to end the whole thing and the story slipped into the helm of uninteresting fantasy. Okay to fill a journey but possibly not worth the time otherwise - or perhaps stop reading at about the 2/3rds mark. (Purchased secondhand at Skoob books, London, UK.)
Profile Image for Pat.
544 reviews16 followers
February 12, 2020
This book was compelling until it took a strong left turn during the last third. I gave it 3 stars for the strength of its beginning. I admit to skimming when I realized it no longer made sense. This is a talented author who disappointed my expectations when the suspension of logic and disbelief was the conclusion.
Profile Image for Calvin.
134 reviews3 followers
February 24, 2018
This I found tiresome as well as massively off target with its tone. There was an awful lot of repetitive waffle that I was probably supposed to find charming, but it just made me roll my eyes. The shift into ever darker territory feels clumsy and all the pay offs felt VERY undersold.
1 review1 follower
July 1, 2018
Fantastic if somewhat sad novel about an Irish boy grappling with family trauma, relationships, and abuse. The first person southern Irish vernacular is one of the highlights of this book, as well as the poignant examination of suffering young kids can go through while coming of age.
25 reviews
February 2, 2019
First two thirds of the book was great, funny, a really likable protagonist, potentially a 4 to 5 star book. Then it looses it's way and becomes rambling and finished with an absolutely ridiculous ending. Hence the 3 stars.
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