Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

At Swim, Two Boys

Rate this book
Praised as “a work of wild, vaulting ambition and achievement” by Entertainment Weekly, Jamie O’Neill’s first novel invites comparison to such literary greats as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Charles Dickens.

Set during the year preceding the Easter Uprising of 1916—Ireland’s brave but fractured revolt against British rule—At Swim, Two Boys is a tender, tragic love story and a brilliant depiction of people caught in the tide of history. Powerful and artful, and ten years in the writing, it is a masterwork from Jamie O’Neill.

Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son—revolutionary and blasphemous—of Mr. Mack’s old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys’ burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.

562 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2001

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jamie O'Neill

8 books198 followers
Jamie O'Neill is an Irish author, who lived and worked in England for two decades; he now lives in Gortachalla, in County Galway, Ireland. His critically-acclaimed novel, At Swim, Two Boys (2001) earned him the highest advance ever paid for an Irish novel and frequent claims that he was the natural successor to James Joyce, Flann O'Brien and Samuel Beckett.

O'Neill was born in Dún Laoghaire in 1962 and was educated at Presentation College, Glasthule, County Dublin, run by the Presentation Brothers, and (in his words) "the city streets of London, the beaches of Greece." He was raised in a home without books, and first discovered that books "could be fun" when he read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. O'Neill was unhappy at home; he had a very difficult relationship with his father and ran away from home at age 17.

O'Neill was the partner of television presenter Russell Harty for six years until Harty's death in 1988. His current partner is Julien Joly, a former ballet dancer who now works as a Shiatsu therapist.

O'Neill lists as his favourite books: Ulysses, by James Joyce, The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault, Hadrian VII, by Fr. Rolfe (Frederick Baron Corvo), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Siege of Krishnapur, by J. G. Farrell, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien, The Swimming-Pool Library, by Alan Hollinghurst, and The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt.

O’Neill met Russell Harty in 1982, during a two-week holiday in London. They became a couple and lived together in London and at Rose Cottage, Harty's home in Giggleswick, Yorkshire. Harty encouraged O'Neill's writing and read his manuscripts; he even mailed manuscripts of early novels to publishers without O'Neill's consent or knowledge, and a book deal was agreed with Weidenfeld. Soon after that, in 1988, Russell Harty died of AIDS-related Hepatitis B. Hounded by the tabloid press, O'Neill's nude photograph was splashed across the front of the Sunday Mirror; the picture was taken shortly after his arrival in London when he earned some money as a model. He turned down offers of up to £50,000 for interviews about his private life with Russell Harty.

This newspaper coverage was how O'Neill's parents in Ireland discovered that their son was gay. This event would have been traumatising enough; his distress was deepened when members of the Harty family threw him out of the cottage, burned his clothes and left him homeless. They did, however, allow him to take the couple's pet dog, Paddy; even though they did want it.

After Russell Harty's death, O'Neill sought therapeutic help. The following year, O'Neill's first novel, Disturbance, was published; Kilbrack followed in 1990. Both novels had been mostly finished while Harty was alive. But then, grieving for Harty and alone in London, O'Neill struggled to write, parted company with both his agent and publisher, and took the job as a night porter at the Cassell Hospital, a psychiatric institution in Surrey from 1990 up to 2000.

Two years after Russell Harty's death, Paddy was to accidentally introduce O'Neill to his future partner. O'Neill was in a London pub when he noticed the dog was missing. Paddy had been found by a ballet dancer named Julien Joly. They began a relationship and Joly was instrumental in helping O'Neill put his life back together. During the ten years that followed, O'Neill wrote At Swim, Two Boys, which was published in 2001. Its official launch at Somerset House in London was abandoned on the day -- it was September 11, 2001.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,127 (45%)
4 stars
2,699 (29%)
3 stars
1,447 (16%)
2 stars
482 (5%)
1 star
280 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 776 reviews
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,565 followers
November 2, 2020
Is it Mr. O'Neill's thesis really that a novel can become even more memorable than a song? In this lyrically dense and character-driven novel, prose beautifully attempts to become lyric and vice versa: the story's universal edge gives it a gravity that's more resolute than even that of legend. The dialogue (at least in the beginning half of the tale) is positively Shakespearean. There is something so Madame Bovary, very much like Jude the Obscure about this coming-of-age drama. Sentences often contain three or four words, then, later, bombard the reader in their fully lush cinematic quality. Chapters, paragraphs, bombastic words themselves at times fall on the reader like buckets of icecold water. The prose itself is what gives the book its glimmer, its personality. Language keeps metamorphosing (like the kids themselves turn before our eyes into men) in tone & age, as third person narration becomes 1st (or even--gasp!--second) at a moment's whim. There are even some Vargas Llosa-like details of exquisite order here. But the story itself suffers somewhat in its last stages--this is perhaps the reason the book isn't a downright classic--a gay love story that indeed takes its time to simmer.
Profile Image for Kirstine.
453 reviews566 followers
June 22, 2020
I almost quit reading this book after the first few pages. It wasn't anything about the story, it was the language. I never expected it to be so Irish, and me, having never read anything by an Irish author before, was thoroughly confused for the first 20 pages at least. And then my brain got used to the language, and I proceeded to read one of the most beautiful, tragic, devastating and honest books I've ever read.

The reason this book ended up on my favorites shelf, and has lodged itself so firmly in my heart (and thoughts) is Jim and Doyle. The relationship those two share is so profound and so wonderfully described and brought to life that I cannot help but live it with them. Their friendship, their love and their understanding and simple acceptance of each other is extraordinarily beautiful to me. Because it is just that; simple. There's nothing fake or shallow or petty about it. They love each other, and this book is the journey they undertake from strangers to soulmates, from boys to men, and it's done in such a way that I have not been able to forget it since.

While it might be difficult to keep reading it at times, it is entirely worth it. And if you're thinking about reading this, please, I beg you, do it. It is a great piece of Irish literature, bringing with it insight into Irish history and Ireland itself, but it's also a story about finding your place in the world, being who you are and loving who you want. And fighting for it, all the while not losing faith in it. It's a beauty of a novel.
Profile Image for Brian.
689 reviews332 followers
September 4, 2019
“Friend of the heart. There was something surely devotional about it, something might be holy even.”

With “At Swim Two Boys” Jamie O’Neil has written with an aching accuracy of the inklings of an emotion that one feels is forbidden. This novel really examines how friends begin to feel love and then progress to the physical stage of exploring it. It is a novel that will slam the reader with its human truths and depth of feeling.
First off, this is a very Irish novel. The text abounds with Irish language, cadences of speech, colloquialisms, and even historical references that might at times muddle the water for readers. You will fall into the speech patterns, and you can look up the historical references. Don’t let that dissuade you from reading this book.
This text has an ensemble cast and I won’t rehash plot points, other than to say that the cast of characters, many of them very well rendered, swirl around two teenage boys who are gay (and coming into an understanding of that difference). And all of this is set in the midst of the tumultuous years 1915 & 1916 in Ireland. It culminates with the ill-fated “Easter Uprising” of 1916.
I am going to briefly explore a couple of highlights for me.
Consider this paragraph;

“Yes, there was something altogether tantalizing about truth. One burnt to tell it, for it to be known. Dreaded it, too, that someone else should say it, their saying it making it true, the truth true, unalterable. He thought of that phrase from Wilde: “’What one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry on the housetop.’ Wilde had meant in confession. Was it conceivable to cry out with pride? When asked was there a flaw in his character, he replied that he did not think it a flaw.”

Besides being awesomely written I was struck by the character who utters it, MacMurrough. A gay man, who was imprisoned for a while for “gross indecency”. O’Neil creates in this character someone exploring the idea of pride and no shame for what one is at a time when it was considered a flaw. And more brilliantly he does so in a manner that stays true to the time period and not told of in the language and moral thought of our own time. As the character of MacMurrough develops he goes from a predatory selfish man to one who sees that his hope lies in the future, that the world will be better and he can take the steps to make it so. He goes so far as to aid and protect two young men despite the fact that he is in love with one of them himself. At one point he realizes, “And yet he could think of nothing more grand than helping this boy to happiness.” His efforts with these young men and making way for a better time to come is quite touching. I was not expecting his character to take this route.
Mr. O’Neil brilliantly captures that ache for human connection (familial, platonic & romantic) that we all crave. At times the text stops you cold while reading. Simple lines, but true true true to the human heart. “Yes, I had known him all my life-and then we met.” and “But I love him. I’m sure of that now. And he’s my country.” Lines like this just sneak into your head and heart and hold on for a while.
The novel also has humor. I chuckled when a teenage boy is told in confession that masturbation is a sin. His fury at the Church for waiting until he was 15 and “confirmed in this sin” to tell him is just clever.
Mr. Mack (The father of one of the novel’s protagonists) also provides humorous content. He is a bit of a fool but a good all-around person. I adored him. He is the type of person who makes the world a good place, despite being a flawed individual.

When I read this paragraph I was stopped by its simple truth. It captures one of those things in life that make us feel complete at times.

"I’m just thinking that would be pleasant. To be reading, say, out of a book, and you come up and touch me-my neck, say, or my knee-and I’d carry on reading, I might let a smile, no more, wouldn’t lose my place on the page. It would be pleasant to come to that. We’d come so close, do you see, that I wouldn’t be surprised out of myself every time you touched.”

Goodness that is a powerful sentiment! And a better one that expresses the joy and truth of a long term relationship I am not sure I have come across. This novel has more than a few such moments.
I was involved with this book. With the language, with the sense of place, with the lovely and painfully real characters.

Simply put, it moved me.
Profile Image for Lane.
15 reviews10 followers
August 31, 2007
Wow. From first to last an amazing book. Be sure to read the first edition; later American editions omit a difficult prefatory section written in unrelentingly difficult Irish and from the perspective of a drunkard. It's not for nothing that one reviewer called O'Neill the love child of Oscar Wilde and James Joyce (can you even imagine???). It's a love story--multiple love stories, actually--set on the eve of the Easter Rebellion and as heartbreaking as anything I've ever read. Promise yourself that you'll keep reading (lots of people find the first fifty pages difficult): it's absolutely worth it.
Profile Image for Dan.
806 reviews81 followers
December 19, 2022
More apropos title: In Ireland, Several Miserable People.

Arduous. Tedious. Anticlimactic. Multitudinous issues with structure, style, and content. Hasty and jarring shifts in narration, timeline, and points of view.

Way too little time spent with Jim and Doyler. The brief moments with them (sometimes) light up the pages—but it’s disappointingly ephemeral. And in a piece this lengthy, it’s nowhere near sufficient to save the balance of the material. Doyler is a caricature of an unfortunate. Jim is a caricature of a boy slightly better off.

An overabundance of text is exhausted in other peoples’ heads. If this is Jim and Doyler’s story, why not tell it? Why torture the reader with Mr. Mack and Eveline? It takes forever before it’s even revealed that the boys have an interest in one another. Mr. Mack’s POV is vexatious, disjointed, and straight-up bizarre.

There’s an (unspoken) premise in this novel—that there’s an innate tragedy in gay love. I fundamentally reject such a faulty premise. Gay love is beautiful and can absolutely be triumphant. There’s no mandate that gay love must be harrowing just to be magnificent. That’s some Brokeback BS right there. And this is a book of fiction. The author does not *have* to make every damn character miserable. He merely chooses to.

In this body of work, as with most existentialist productions, there is no concise point.

It seems as though things develop with Anthony after (spoiler). So why not further explore that?

The conclusion is insufficient and abrupt.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
July 8, 2011
If Russia has Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina, Ireland has Jamie O’Neill and At Swim, Two Boys. The milieu of Anna was Russia few decades before the Russian Revolution in 1917 that abolished the Tsarist autocracy and installed Soviet Union. O’Neill’s milieu was that of Ireland during the 1916 Easter Rising whose aim was to end the British rule and establish the Irish Republic.

The comparison does not end there. If Tolstoy has Anna and Levin as characters to illustrate or witness the transformation of Russian from that of traditional Asian to modern Western, O’Neill has two or three gay men, lovers Jim Mack and Doyler Doyle and the Oscar Wilde clone, Anthony MacMurrough to depict how political turmoil can seep through the lives of Irish people regardless of their sexuality. The way O’Neill used gay men to drive home this point is something that I thought to be truly commendable. Only gifted writers would think of taking this risk. I’ve read a number of good novels (Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet, etc) with homosexuality as its main motif but most of them play on the emotional aspect of being gay as if being a homosexual is something that is an aberration that needs to be examined or gawked at so it must be highlighted to delight or catch the interest of the readers.

O’Neill’s portrayal of the lives of the three gay men was honest and not pretentious. The characters were open but were not attention-getter. There was no big fuss about their sexuality as if being gay was widely accepted in Ireland (predominantly a Roman Catholic country) during that time 1916-1917. Not sure what O’Neill’s intent was but the way homosexuality was depicted here was like how Gertrude Stein did it in The Autobiography of Alice Toklas where hers and Toklas’s homosexual love was just like a heterosexual one. When in fact it should have been an issue since homosexuality during those times was not yet as open as it is now. Example of this treatment was the subtle depiction Evelyn Waugh did in his opus Brideshead Revisited or Christopher Isherwood in his seminal work Goodbye to Berlin. You know that there are same-sex lovers in the story but you have to read between the lines and pay close attention to the narration to be able to detect it.

At Swim, Two Boys (2001) is about two 16-y/o Irish boys who love each other and they make a pact to swim across a sea from a nudist beach to a distant island that they want to claim for themselves as proof of their love for each other. Although it sounds cheesy, the morning they swim to the island is what they call the 1916 Easter Rising when a group of Irish soldiers raise arms against the British government to demand for their nation’s independence. The young lovers, Jim and Doyler, are sons of old-time friends who together had fought in WWI. Now, their sons are supposed to be men who will soon be fighting for their countries as well.

The writing is typical of Irish novels. It reminded me of my two attempts to read my waterloo book Ulysses by James Joyce – a book that I twice tried to read only to put it back to my tbr pile. I just could not understand what it was trying to tell me. However, it was good that I have a friend here in GR who said that I just have to go with the flow and let the message come to me naturally. I did and it worked. It was like magic. There were many spoken Irish and Latin terms phrases and I just ignored them. Not sure if how much of the book I missed in doing that but I thought I got the gist of what the book was.

Overall, not an easy read but a worthwhile one. I learned so much about Ireland during that time and this book reminded me of my favorite Irish works like those of Joyce James in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Kellman’s Kieron Smith, boy, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (oh, I have to read his ’Tis and Teacher Man someday soon!) and even the 2000 movie Billy Elliot. Ah, of course, Oscar Wilde was very much alive in the character of the third gay in the story McEmm who was the most interesting character in terms of being in the gray area: he was neither good nor bad. There are other minor gay characters like Dick and Scroties whose names remind me of the male genital parts and make their characters oh soo gay.

Good job for O’Neill in his successful effort to put male homosexuality in its right perspective: it is neither to be flaunted nor hidden. It is what it is: nothing different from a man-woman heterosexual love.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 55 books192 followers
October 23, 2007
An astonishing book, big and flawed and driven and filled with love and anger. I can't recommend it too highly. Other reviewers here have mentioned that it takes some getting into, but only if you don't let the ear do part of the work of reading. Listen to what O'Neill is doing with the language, the music of it certainly, but also the exactitude, the sense it creates of a world that is both our own and not our own. Fabulous. And of course it examines the ways in which gay sexuality/identity is made, experienced, feared and finally embraced with an extraordinary precision and generosity. The multi-peopled interior monologues of Mc Emm (as Jim calls him) early in the book are a marvel of economy and ventriloquism.
Profile Image for Dan.
806 reviews81 followers
November 24, 2022
More apropos title: In Ireland, Several Miserable People.

Arduous. Tedious. Anticlimactic. Multitudinous issues with structure, style, and content. Hasty and jarring shifts in narration, timeline, and points of view.

Way too little time spent with Jim and Doyler. The brief moments with them (sometimes) light up the pages—but it’s disappointingly ephemeral. And in a piece this lengthy, it’s nowhere near sufficient to save the balance of the material. Doyler is a caricature of an unfortunate. Jim is a caricature of a boy slightly better off.

An overabundance of text is exhausted in other peoples’ heads. If this is Jim and Doyler’s story, why not tell it? Why torture the reader with Mr. Mack and Eveline? It takes forever before it’s even revealed that the boys have an interest in one another. Mr. Mack’s POV is vexatious, disjointed, and straight-up bizarre.

There’s an (unspoken) premise in this novel—that there’s an innate tragedy in gay love. I fundamentally reject such a faulty premise. Gay love is beautiful and can absolutely be triumphant. There’s no mandate that gay love must be harrowing just to be magnificent. That’s some Brokeback BS right there. And this is a book of fiction. The author does not *have* to make every damn character miserable. He merely chooses to.

In this body of work, as with most existentialist productions, there is no concise point.

It seems as though things develop with Anthony after (spoiler). So why not further explore that?

The conclusion is insufficient and abrupt.
Profile Image for Jane Seville.
Author 11 books831 followers
April 15, 2009
This book is the "Wuthering Heights" of gay-themed fiction. Among the tragically sparse population of novels about same-sex relationships that aren't relegated to the Gay Fiction section but are allowed to rub shoulders with the rest of the mainstream and literary fiction, O'Neill's book stands as a monolith among lesser pretenders.

I won't lie to you, it's not the easiest read ever. The Irish patois is very thick and at first it's slow going, but within about twenty pages I had gotten the rhythm of O'Neill's dialect, and it started to make sense. More than that, it began to have a quality that drew me in, an element of storytelling that enriched the vividness of the working-class setting and served to beautifully illustrate the world in which these two boys lived.

The relationship itself isn't candy-coated. It's harsh and rough and passionate and often impossible. It's very real in a visceral, gut-twisting way that's sometimes uncomfortable. The story is deeply rooted in the politics and atmosphere of the time; it'd be worth your while to go Wikipedia the Easter Uprising so you have an idea of what was going on in Ireland at the time.
Profile Image for Jason.
355 reviews46 followers
July 6, 2018
Love is love is love.

This is a coming of age story. This is a period story, a history of Ireland leading up to the Easter Rising. This is a story about class, religion, and prejudice. This is a story about gay men. This is a love story on many levels.

O'Neill gives us a story centered around two young men, one seemingly naive and sweet, the other street smart, made to grow up quickly - "pal of each others' hearts" they are. These boys are dynamic and lovable, but for me it is the complexity of the side characters that really had me intrigued: the predator that is Brother Polycarp; the enigma of Eveline MacMurrough; the reserved shoppkeeper, father, and once a Dublin fusilier, Mr. Mack; the many-shades-of-gray Anthony MacMurrough, whom I have such sympathies for, while loathing many or his actions, and am still unsure of whether he may not be schizophrenic (though I tend to believe it is the compartmentalization of a complicated person). O'Neill's story and characters did not win me over immediately, I didn't even recognize them as complicated or gray for quite a while, like so many of my favorite books, the story has to grow on you, evolve and sneak up while your whiling away the time reading about political unrest, religious fear, and improprieties.

Grey morning dulled the bay. Banks of clouds, Howth just one more bank, rolled to sea, where other Howths grumbled to greet them. Swollen spumeless tide. Heads that bobbed like floating gulls and gulls that floating bobbed like heads. Two heads. At swim, two boys.

It is a strange, tender, and imperfect love story, as well as, a tale about the search for belonging, acceptance. It is dirty and lovely, but not quite a perfect read... perhaps if only Doyler could just spit a little less - great gobs, strings of spittle, sprays of it.

Profile Image for Gerry Burnie.
Author 10 books27 followers
November 28, 2010
Shortly after I reviewed Gay Male Fiction Since Stonewall, I received a note from author Les Brookes suggesting I read At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill [Scribner, 2002]. I took him at his word, and I am ever so happy that I did. This is an epic tale (576 pages) that has been compared to such heavyweights as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Flann O’Brien, and arguably so.

The setting is the village of Glasthule, near Dublin, Ireland, in the year 1915. Glasthule is a quintessential Irish village that O’Neill has populated with a cast of colourful characters: Jim Mack, the sixteen-year-old ingénue, unworldly to the point of being naïve; Doyler Doyle, similar in age but worldly in all the ways Jim isn’t, and a socialist-patriot; Mr. Mack, Jim’s father and an inveterate social-climber, both for himself and his son; Eveline MacMurrough, Glasthule’s local gentry and leading citizen; Anthony MacMurrough. Eveline’s nephew back in Ireland after his release from an English prison for ‘gross indecency’; Mr. Doyle, “Himself”, Doyler’s father and a veteran of the Boer War—which status he uses to illicit free drinks at the local pub; and the Catholic clergy-establishment represented by Brother Polycarp, a paedophilic conservative, and Curate Father O’Toiler, a devout, Irish nationalist.

Each of these characters is unique in some way, well-developed throughout, and each represents an element of traditional Irish society. Moreover, O’Neill has endowed them all—especially the poorer-classes—with a wonderfully quaint vernacular of Irish words and phrases; including Gaelic. He then goes on to surround these with an equally lyrical narrative that captures the lilt of the Irish language to a delightful degree.

At the beginning of the story Jim is a student at the Catholic college, a remarkable achievement for a lad of his modest, economic background, but it is only made possible by winning a scholarship. While this is a most credible accomplishment on Jim’s part, it also labels him a step below his wealthier classmates—a reflection of the classist-based stratification of Anglo-Irish society during this era. As a result Jim is somewhat of a loner; feeling neither at ease with his peers nor in his father’s pretentious, middleclass lifestyle. That is until he serendipitously encounters the rakish Doyler Doyle, a former childhood friend who has returned to Glasthule to assist his poverty-stricken mother and ailing father—i.e. “Himself.” Coming from the other side of the tracks, and employed as a “shit shoveller,” Doyler represents the lowest class of all on the economic scale; nevertheless he possesses a “what cheer, eh?” attitude, and a high level of fundamental honesty and principle—if one overlooks the occasional ‘sex-for-incentive’ activity.

Like a moth to a beacon, Jim is drawn to this outgoing, verbose, and also affectionate rascal, and together they find common ‘ground’ in swimming at “Forty Foot”; a promontory near Dublin, famous for nude bathing. Thus the two become dedicated to the swim such that they make a solemn pact to swim to Muglins Rock a year hence—Easter Sunday, 1916—as the pinnacle of their achievement and their growing friendship. Unwittingly, therefore, they have also laid the cornerstone of their romance, which will grow apace.

Here O’Neill has purposefully cut through the economic class structure of the day to find a more meaningful commonality to bind the two boys together, acceptably, while letting their romantic love develop almost imperceptibly at the same time. Interestingly, for a novel written in 2002, it is a classic assimilationist approach to gay fiction; i.e. an idealistic love between two males ‘unblemished’ by sex. The melancholy ending also reflects the unwritten, pre-Stonewall (1969) rule that covert or overt gay characters couldn’t be allowed an ‘happily-ever-after’ ending.

Representing the Irish Nationalist movement of the period, O’Neill has surprisingly assigned Eveline MacMurrough, and to some extent Curate Father O’Toiler—although his nationalism is firmly grounded in the interest of the Catholic Church as the national church. Ergo, the landscape of early 20th-century Ireland is painted in shades of conflict: conflict between the classes; conflict between Ireland and Britain; conflict between the Catholics and Protestants, and conflict between gays and the heterosexual establishment.

Jim and Doyler are also caught up in these conflicts regardless of their quite innocent and as yet unconsummated love. Jim’s bullying peers taunt him about his relationship with Doyler, Brother Polycart is darkly jealous of Doyler’s attention toward Jim, and Jim is torn between his religious belief and his growing sexual desire for Doyler—so much so that he ultimately experiences a nervous breakdown, and Doyler is driven away for being a socialist.

Rising above all this the two boys do eventually reach the apex of their love/relationship by swimming to Muglins Rock, where they finally consummate their love as well. However, having reached the pinnacle of their relationship there is no place but down when they are caught up in the ill-fated, 1916 Easter uprising.

This is a powerful and yet tender coming-of-age tale that engages the reader with layers of emotion, from the pinnacle to the depths and back again.

Profile Image for Sala Bim.
149 reviews50 followers
December 24, 2017
I found this book to be so beautifully written. It is a very moving, dense yet quiet, tender coming-of-age story of youth and friendship and love. I didn't find it to be pretentious, or contrite, or over-the-top, nor was it bogged down by the silly, cliche plot devices that so many modern writers are using, i.e.: sex, melodrama, unneccessary angst, gay-for-you, menage, cheating...etc... I find these devices to be unimaginative, insulting, and lazy, and they simply turn me off. A good story can sell itself and that is certainly the case here. This point is further proven for me in the fact that I may not have liked everything that happened plot-wise or even the ending, but it did not change my opinion about what a beautiful and touching story this is. That's a rarity for me. Please don't be dismayed by the language if you find it a bit challenging at first. The story, in my opinion, is well worth it and you eventually become more familiar with the author's voice. I am not often so moved by literature (though I devour it constantly) but this story really did move me and I came away satisfied. I reflect on this book fondly and it gives me a warm, tender feeling each time.
Profile Image for James Henderson.
2,010 reviews166 followers
June 21, 2020
This very Irish novel by Jamie O'Neill was a sometimes frustrating, but ultimately wonderful book to read. The combination of a luscious prose style and interesting love story combined to provide for an enjoyable experience for this reader. The main characters came alive over the course of this long novel. However, both the difficulties I had with the dialect and confusion over the events (not being that expert in Irish history of the World War I era) detracted from my overall enjoyment. At the heart of the novel is the love of two boys, Jim and Doyler, for each other and, for me, the particularly moving relationship of Jim with his father, Mr. Mack. I was at another disadvantage in my ignorance of Catholicism which also impeded my appreciation of the story.
Nonetheless the book captured me as I'm sure it has other readers, with the passion of the characters and use of language that was truly inspiring.
Profile Image for Scott.
685 reviews81 followers
June 4, 2019
I don't believe I have ever used this word before, and I'm a little shocked that I'm about to use it for a book that made its way into my hands unbidden and about which I was not very excited. I'm also shocked I'm about to use it for a work of gay fiction, a genre filled with drecky wish-fulfillment and maudlin tales of the lovelorn. There are a lot of reasons I was surprised when the word sneaked up on me midway through this novel and firmly lodged itself in my head. Ok, I am about to use the word. Are you ready for me to use the word? Mark the occasion.

This book is a masterpiece.
Profile Image for Nathaniel.
17 reviews
April 13, 2015
Oh boy, this book.

Before I start gushing, let's get it out of the way: this is not a perfect book. It's not a literary classic that will be studied in liberal arts colleges into the future. Any comparisons to Ulysses (love it or hate it) are superficial and entirely too generous (although this book does at least one thing that Joyce never could...). Its ending is predictable and cliche. Its characters, while loveable, aren't entirely believable - and the main character, Jim, is even a little flat. There are plenty of loose ends, which makes the book ultimately fall short of its potential as an epic on the scale of "Les Miserables" (again, the comparison to a mighty work of classic literature like Hugo's epic is too generous for this book, but the fact that I can't help but make it does say something about, at the very least, the scope of O'Neill's).

OK, now I can begin gushing. I loved this book. I loved every goddamn page. I read until my eyes burned at three in the morning. I thought about it while I wasn't reading it. I stopped reading in the middle of sentences to collect my breath. I'm sure I would have finished it in a single sitting if work and life hadn't gotten in the way. As it is, I actually prolonged finishing this book as long as I could, waiting for the perfect moment to savor the ending.

And when the ending came - predictable and cliched as it was - I cried, and cried, and cried. I was on a train at the time, rolling alongside the coast between Paso Robles and Santa Barbara. It was beautiful, epic scenery. I was listening to Rachmaninoff's Concerto no. 2, and the amazing (unequaled, in my opinion) climax of the first movement coincided perfectly with the final moments of the book - it was one of the most emotionally powerful experiences of my life, and I had to run and lock myself in the toilets to cry my eyes out.

If I could start a charity, it would be to buy up thousands - millions! - of copies of this book and place them, along with E.M. Forster's "Maurice" in the hands of every gay adolescent boy. This was the book I needed then - and now. It is a serious and researched moment in the early stages of Ireland's independence from British home rule, as told from the perspective of two young boys who fall in love. Although at its heart it is a gay fantasy, it is written with skill and respect for its readers; the struggle for Irish independence was a messy and complicated affair, as war always is, with no clearly-defined good or bad guys. This ambiguous struggle not only provides a compelling momentum to the narrative as violence looms on the horizon and factions form on either side of a nebulous divide, but helps cement the main characters in a real world, lending credibility to the story (and to the characters, who, as I mentioned, can be a little flat).

But the historical narrative of the book is really only the background, and the heart of the story is, obviously, the love story. In this regard the book really tugs at my heart, and I feel part of this is because of how unaccustomed I am to seeing love stories between two boys portrayed in a way that isn't chaste and psychoanalytical (looking at you, Proust) or smutty (not that there's anything wrong with smut. I love smut!). However, there are definitely some very sexy, very titillating moments (a good amount of it being between a sixteen year old boy and an older mid-thirties man, so if that's offensive to you I'd stay away). What I particularly liked about the handling of the gay romance is that the tension isn't necessarily focused on the shame of being gay - although that is definitely a component, especially in the early sections of the book - but the nervousness and excitement of love, the fear and exhilaration, the prolonging the satiation of desire, the porous and amorphous boundaries between friends and lovers, brothers, and superiors (especially class).

There's also a truly inspired moment where two of the main characters approach a cop, describe to him in graphic detail how they fucked each other the night before, then beat the cop up and steal his bike. That alone is worth the read, in my opinion.

I'm not sure what else to say that isn't spoiler-y. It's a beautiful book. I've rarely been so mad at an ending, but I couldn't tell you why (I could, but not without spoiling). I plan on writing to the author as soon as possible to express my rage and also my adoration of his work, and I will absolutely be buying a copy of this for my own library - something I almost never do (I'm a library guy).
Profile Image for Alicja.
277 reviews81 followers
December 17, 2014
rating: 6/5

At its core, this is a love story. Two 16 year old boys, a college boy, Jim Mack and a laborer, Doyler Doyle, make a pact to practice swimming for a year so on Easter of 1916 (unknowingly to them a time of the Easter Rising and Irish rebellion), they will swim to a beacon of Muglins Rock. As their friendship develops, so do other, deeper feelings.

But it is also much more than a love story. Mr. Mack, Jim’s father, is a corner shopkeep who has dreams of going up in society. He also has a history (military and broken friendship) with Doyler’s father. Eve MacMurrough is a woman ahead of her time, tough and revolutionary. Anthony MacMurrough is a deviant who doesn’t have a purpose in life. Their stories, and that of so many more characters, collide when Irish nationalism, sexual orientation, Catholic guilt, alcoholism, class identity, socialism, wars, unwed pregnancy, unionism, and loyalty push and pull them in directions they couldn’t imagine.

I read this book twice. At first, I thought I was going to give up because of the language. It is a hard read, the author writes in first person, stream of consciousness and uses an Irish dialect and slang. But the more I read, the easier it became (also one of the reasons I re-read it, I missed so much at first before I became used to the writing). The author weaves so much into the story, rich with symbolism and foreshadowing, that every single word on the page matters. The language transformed me into the moment, as if what I was reading on the page was actually happening around me, his use of imagery was vivid and alive.

The author also weaves story lines like an expert (and tackles many really hard topics), the fully formed characters with their own motivations and flaws interact with each other and the world at large while being pushed and pulled in unexpected ways. Some of the characters are even predatory or cruel, but have redeeming qualities which adds to their realism.

This book also made me cry, the harshness of life during that era is a constant presence throughout the story. This isn’t a read for everyone, it is difficult and requires patience, but for those that can persevere, it is a gem, a literary work that is completely beautiful and moving while being gritty and realistic. And the love story between Jim and Doyler is so innocent and awkward and moving, I fell in love with the boys myself.

3/8/14: I was just thinking about how I need to read this one for the third time. You know it is a good book when years after reading it there is still this pull to grab it and sink your mind into it again.
Profile Image for Jemppu.
500 reviews91 followers
September 13, 2022
Got me rendered tender by the sweetness, and the ingenuousness; the story carried itself with such sincerity, grew, and ultimately achieved that warmest of feelings: laughter through tears.

Not firsthand involved in the machinations of the national politics, the story has it's very own trajectory and objectives, which yet felt inescapably affected by their contemporary atmosphere, bringing worth great, bittersweet pathos.

The Irish syntax, with which the narrative is conducted, took initial adjustment, but eventually won you over completely, enhancing the whole authenticity of the characters, and ultimately delivered the most impactful final note, too.

Profound, darling and oh, so imperfectly human.

A well earned 5.

Reading updates.
Profile Image for Nicola.
535 reviews55 followers
May 5, 2017
4 1/2 stars

More reinforcement, if more was needed, that the 1001 list has been great for exposing me to quality current (ish) literature. Especially works by authors who wouldn't necessarily come to my attention through best seller lists or word of mouth 'in' books.

At Swim, Two Boys was a very enjoyable read, grim and humourous by turns and written in a lyrical way which meshed perfectly with the casts Irish accents. It's set in 1915-1916, so just before the Easter uprising and two young Irish boys from fairly different family backgrounds cement a devoted friendship by a pact to practice their swimming for a year and then, come Easter 1916 they will swim out to the Muglins Rock beacon together and plant an Irish flag. Such an independent gesture of patriotic fervor, innocent though it seems, is not a simple task; the swim will be dangerous to attempt.

Before they even get that far though, Doyler Doyle, the poor but prideful young socialist leaves the village of Glasthule (just outside of Dublin), hounded out by his unpopular views, and his friend Jim Mack, is left alone to try to make some sense of his romantic feelings in a very Catholic Ireland which more than disapproves of such 'friendships'.

Doyler and Jim were both wonderful characters but they didn't have to carry the novel alone; Jamie O'Neill threw in a wonderful cast of characters, too many to mention separately but I'll offer up a couple for honourable mention.

At the top of the list is Mr MacMurrough, an unrepentant homosexual (imagine Oscar Wilde) who has already served two years hard labour for his detected crimes. He comes from a wealthy family and after his release he is taken back in by his aunt, Eveline MacMurrough, in an attempt to 'rehabilitate' him. Ms MacMurrough was a wonderfully complicated character who I found it quite difficult to get a proper read on. As an Irish aristocrat she believed wholeheartedly in a united Ireland and seemed to be willing to sacrifice a great deal to bring it about. Alternatively caustic, kind, liberal and then moralistic, she was a steely spined lady who had an inordinate amount of pride in the MacMurrough name as always being at the forefront of any fight for Irish sovereignty.

Love for friends, love for comrades, love for country and love for pure loves sake - this was a love story with a real difference and I loved it :-)

Long Live Love.
Profile Image for Micha.
551 reviews8 followers
February 7, 2015
I found it on the discount shelf at a local bookstore and decided to invest. In the beginning, I thought O'Neill was trying a bit too hard to be Joyce (and failing), but he laid off a bit after the first twenty pages or so and I stopped minding it.

Biggest factor in my giving this a three- instead of two-star review is the character MacMurrough, who started out with four different people living in his head, all opposing, who eventually came together into one voice. I totally shipped Jim/MacMurrough more than Jim/Doyle, even though you aren't supposed to. MacM. really redeemed himself in the book, which was unexpected given what you know of him in the beginning, but it was gradual and believable all the same.

But then, I always root for the upper-class man. Awful, isn't it?
Profile Image for Open Loop Press.
17 reviews23 followers
June 7, 2009
In 2001 Jamie O’Neill’s novel, “At Swim, Two Boys,” was published to international acclaim. O’Neill was compared favorably with James Joyce and called the “next big thing” by critics around the globe. The story of Jim and Doyler, “At Swim, Two Boys” explores the complexity of two boys’ emerging love for each other against the backdrop of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising.

The Lancers had charged here too, it was told. There was a dead horse down the way. All about the steps, flowers were strewn and trampled, where the flower-sellers’ stalls had been toppled. Barricades blocked the side streets, erected of particular things: bicycles jumbled and piled in one, hunks of marble for another, bales of newsprint—the work of disparate guilds whimsically chosen. Trams had been overturned. There were no trams running. No juice, the tram-man told him. Even trains: the Sinn Feiners had dug up the lines. And no polis. No polis anywhere. Withdrawn to barracks. Every last pigeon-hearted lily-livered chicken-gutted sneak of them. It was pandemonium. It was Donnybrook Fair. It was all ballyhooly let loose. (U.K. Edition, pages 563 – 564)

Thus begins the move toward Irish independence, a long and bloody war of subversion, disagreeable compromise, and betrayal. But “At Swim, Two Boys” is as much a book about love as it is a book about revolution. In fact, descriptions of the uprising come only in the novel’s last chapters. It is the heady confusion of the boys’ affection for each other and the complex portrait of emerging Irish nationhood that spur the reader on.

Pegged at 200,000 words, “At Swim, Two Boys” is also a book made rich by the possibilities of the English language: animated spoken speech, diverging, difficult accents, lyrical writing interrupted by abrupt pivots from one point of view to another. These add a magnificent texture to O’Neill’s deftly rendered history, animating his questions about Irish culture through characters that embody the myriad walks of early twentieth century Irish life:

There goes Mr. Mack, cock of the town. One foot up, the other foot down. The hell of a gent. With a tip of his hat here and a top of the morn there, tip-top, everything’s dandy. He’d bare his head to a lamppost.

A Christian customer too. Designate the charity, any bazaar you choose, up sticks the bill in his shop. ‘One Shilling per Guinea Spent Here Will Aid the Belgian Refugees.’ ‘Comforts for the Troops in France.’ ‘Presentation Missions up the Limpopo.’ Choose me the cause, he’s a motto to milk it. See him of a Sunday. Ladies’ Mass by the sixpenny-door, stays on for the Stations for his tanner’s worth. Oh, on the up, that’s Mr. Mack, a Christian genteelery grocerly man. (U.K. Edition, page 3)

In the years since its publication the critics’ compliments for “At Swim” have rippled through the culture. They inform book club picks, course syllabi, the recommendations of one friend to another. This, it seems, is true evidence of the novel’s success: these concentric circles; these expanding rings.

~Carlin M. Wragg, Editor, Open Loop Press
Profile Image for Fenriz Angelo.
420 reviews25 followers
September 26, 2017
As the 1 star rating says "I did not like it" and...honestly i did like the story but not the execution. I know english is not my native language and that i might be potato at british english but this one has 1900's irish english i just...couldn't grasp 50% of what was said in the sentences lol, it took me a lot of time to get accustomed to it. Besides, there's this weird unannounced change of POV's and pace that doesn't make sense that makes it even worse, in one part,

Idk, i'm not even sad about the ending, it was kinda expected from the nature of the story, this is a war tell, about personal discovery during hard times, friendship, love, and political defiance. Had i enjoyed it more if it was written in a modern language and just keep the dialogue with the irish slang, also straighten more the plot because it seems that it tangents at times with the revolution therefore doesn't feeling integral with the story between the boys until past 90%

The characters are great, i like the Mcmurroughs, Evaline was cool, McEmm too, he's complicated but in the end i warmed up to him. Doyler and Jim are also great characters, Jim's father and his aunt were right too but they got neglected by the author in the end.
Profile Image for Medhat The Fanatic Reader.
333 reviews109 followers
March 7, 2021
At Swim, Two Boys is most probably the hardest book that I willingly got myself into reading.

It's a beautiful, beautiful book with lyrical writing, complex & distinguishable characters, but it's immensely dense due to the way it was written because at its core (its themes, characterization, timing, set-up, and prose), "At Swim, Two Boys" is superfluently Irish.

I had more than a few moments when I was reading but understanding nothing due to the rich Irish dialect, but just when I got used to the style of writing style, the book felt atmospheric, its unusual depth cathartic, and many of its characters felt gentle, tender, and beautifully described, and most importantly, redeemable, despite their many flaws.

The friendships that joined MacMurrough to Jim, and Doyler to Jim was a recurring plot-device that writer Jamie O'Neill used effectively to explore Ireland during 1915 and 1916, important years in Irish history during which the Irish were fighting for their independence from the British Empire.

I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that the actual events that took place at the end of the novel had actually happened, and so by reading this, blending fiction to the reality of the Irish folks in that period, it made me more empathic towards its flawed characters and their heroic, if sometimes, foolish actions.

At Swim, Two Boys is an oeuvre d'art that explores sexual awakening, first love, loss of innocence, believing in friendship, and finding courage at the intersect of a major historical change.
Profile Image for Maria Lago.
442 reviews96 followers
March 13, 2019
Yes, it may be difficult to read for a non-native, but my, is this worth it! Considering I was reading it in Ireland (I have a tendency to do things like these, see The Silence of the Lambs), the setting was perfect. So, I read it slowly, albeit increasingly fascinated. And maybe for the first time ever, I did not feel like I had to choose teams in this love triangle: I genuinely like the three of them and wanted them to be happy.
My recommendation is if you have time and patience, this book will reward you greatly. If you are in the mood for a quicker read, chose something else.
And right after this I read Call Me by Your Name... Obviously, that frivolous story was completely ruined for me after Jamie and Doyler, I mean, please!
Profile Image for George Ilsley.
Author 12 books230 followers
May 4, 2020
Previously gave up on this, but now just read it. It is lengthy. One either has to know a lot about Irish history in order the grasp the framework for the narrative, or else one has to just not care a whit. O'Neill makes very little effort to inform readers what is going on in terms of the history, which I found made the work much less interesting. Parts of this swept me along, but overall it felt too long. Was it meant to be more of a personal story? If so, it could have been cut by a third.

May be of more interest to someone who knows a lot about the nuances of politics in Ireland.
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,894 reviews430 followers
March 13, 2021
'At Swim, Two Boys' by Jamie O'Neill is frustrating, brilliantly literary and bittersweet in nostalgic emotion all at once. The writing is a combination of archaic Dublin expressions and language conventions combined with literary modernism techniques. The book is entirely composed of weird partial statements in Irish-English that seem to be created from diagrammed phrases of sentences. It didn't help that the author also wrote in a stream-of-consciousness style (and similar to some poems the words seem to need to be spoken for the proper experience of them).

The fictional story takes place in Dublin in the years 1915/1916 using a real-life history moment as background. I know very little about what is now known as the Easter Uprising. But I used Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_...

I finally had to restart my read of the novel because of the difficulty I had in keeping up with the author. It was much better the second go-through.

The book has at its center two young Dublin boys of fifteen who are gay. One is very poor, angry and political. Doyler Doyle is a night soil collector and a member of the Irish Citizen Army. He is sexually active, perhaps not entirely by his choice but because of poverty. His father is a drunkard. The other boy, Jim Mack, is a scholarship student at a respected Catholic school, Presentation College. Jim is of a more innocent disposition and the more naive of the two boys. Initially, he is being groomed unknowingly by a pedophile Brother at the college, having been convinced he has a calling for priesthood. Jim and Doyler's fathers know each other from military service, but the two fathers are not any longer friends because of Mick Doyle's alcoholism.

The two boys encounter each other occasionally around Dublin but become friends when the school starts a music band. This blossoming friendship leads to Doyler teaching Jim how to swim. They both play flute.

They separately have met a young wealthy man, Doyler being the first. Anthony MacMurrough, who is also gay, helps Doyler after he induces Doyler to have sex by giving him money and food that MacMurrough is in turn given by his aunt Evelyn MacMurrough. She is a wealthy upper-class woman with secret Irish liberation politics. She seeks to rehabilitate her nephew's reputation from his two years in an English prison after having been caught in sex with a chauffeur. She believes it is a false charge. He is actually guilty of the conviction and much emotionally damaged by the prison term.

Arthur Mack is the widowed father of Jim. He is a Dublin shopkeeper, the Adelaide General Store. Initially, he supports the English. Jim is his youngest. The older son Gordon joined the English army and is off fighting World War I. Arthur is silly with aspirations, but a terrific father, if somewhat benighted and close-minded.

Below is a copy of the accurate cover blurb:

Set in Dublin, At Swim, Two Boys follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. O'Neill tells the story of the love of two boys: Jim, a naive and reticent scholar and the younger son of the foolish aspiring shopkeeper Mr. Mack, and Doyler, the dark, rough-diamond son of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Doyler might once have made a scholar like Jim, might once have had prospects like Jim, but his folks sent him to work, and now, schoolboy no more, he hauls the parish midden cart, with socialism and revolution and willful blasphemy stuffed under his cap.

And yet the future is rosy, Jim's father is sure. His elder son is away fighting the Hun for God and the British Army, and he has such plans for Jim and their corner shop empire. But Mr. Mack cannot see that the landscape is changing, nor does he realize the depth of Jim's burgeoning friendship with Doyler. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, Easter 1916, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves.

Ten years in the writing, At Swim, Two Boys has already caused a sensation in England and Ireland, earning lavish praise for its masterful portrayal of class, tradition, and the conflict that has haunted Ireland for centuries. Jamie O'Neill's poetic and evocative storytelling makes him a natural successor to James Joyce and Flann O'Brien [[book:At Swim-Two-Birds|97333]].

At its heart, At Swim, Two Boys is a tender and tragic love story that will resonate with all readers. But it is also a compelling and important work, a novel about people caught up in the tide of history -- set in a place and culture both unfamiliar and unforgettable.

'At Swim, Two Boys' is a challenging read, but worth it. After spending some days wondering if I should continue reading it, I decided to struggle through. It is a warm, bittersweet story! I'm glad I did read it, although I am somewhat conflicted about the character MacMurrough. The hothouse sexuality of most teenage boys without any sex education except that from Catholic priests (abstinence! it's a crime against God!) or without any social acceptance of their sexuality (homosexuality being a legal crime at the time. If males were caught together having sex they were convicted as guilty criminals and sent to prison, even if the so-called criminals were only boys.) So. MacMurrough is sort of a hero. Don't judge me.
Profile Image for Tim Power.
29 reviews10 followers
June 15, 2022
I can’t believe I almost stopped reading this book twice in the first 100 pages. I’m so happy I didn’t. Once I overcame the initial hump of O’Neill’s writing style and feeling I needed an Irish glossary by me at all times, I fell in love with it all: the writing, the story, the characters. This, I feel, is truly a modern day classic.
Profile Image for Raymond.
11 reviews3 followers
October 28, 2009
Now this was a good book! It's not like any of the gay novels that I've read before, and believe me, I've read quite a few. At Swim, Two boys was a little tricky to read at first because of the language. The book takes place in Ireland, and so I assume that a lot of the words that I did not understand were not words ordinarily used in the English dictionary. But it was a joy to read, anyway. The writing style was impressive, and once you get in the swing of understanding the language, it becomes very pleasurable to indulge in.

I say this book is not like any other gay novel I've read because it isn't. There is a genuine story here, with so many more elements than just gay youth coming together. There was a real story here, and it was filled with a lot of sadness, but also comedy. Mr. Mack, a father that is both difficult to deal with, but also very loving, is interesting to read about. His son, Jim, can be considered the protagonist, but the author wrote in the eyes of several different characters, probably so as to keep the audience from getting bored. I try doing that a lot in my own novels, and I think it is very effective.

What I would like to know is if any of the events that occured in this novel actually happened. i know that it is a work of fiction, but the setting is true enough- World War One in Ireland, with the Irish soldiers being shipped off to Ireland's mother country of Great Britain to join in the war against Germany. There are some uprisings involving the Volunteer militia, and there are plenty of secrets in Dublin of the Socialist party. Whatever the case, it would be beneficial to know whether or not Jamie O'Neill knew much about Ireland's history. Ha, of course, the author probably IS from Ireland, though the book was published in America, according to the title page.

I recommend this book to anybody who is tired of gay novels with the same silly elements- teenage boys developing crushes, desiring some other boy, and then being abused by society and their parents for their lifestyle. Not that any of those are necessarily bad- I do enjoy them occasionally- but this novel was definitely a breath of fresh air for me. Something new. Not to mention that you'll feel pretty smart after finishing the book- it really can be difficult to understand at first!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 776 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.