This book was picked as one of our book club reads before we disbanded (sob). So i decided to read it since i had bought it.
i did not read the reviews before i read it so i dived in without expectations. And when i say “dived in”, i really mean fell in the deep end.
This was the first time i have read a book mainly about boys; teenage boys in an all boys boarding school in Ireland! So i was a little lost at the beginning (emotionally and culturally) and Paul Murray’s writing style did not help. However, once you get used to the rambling style, which i have come to accept as a reflection of how the mind of a teenage boy would function, the story does grab you.
The fact that Skippy dies within the first few pages kept me reading on, wanting to find out how, why he died. i came to enjoy the way Murray writes; the chopped-up, rather disconnected (or maybe it is connected, just weirdly) thoughts of teenagers really came through the writing. The way the story is structured also reflected the chaotic way a teenager’s life can be, flying back and forth between internal thoughts, external action, past memories and secrets; it can be hard to follow but it makes for an interesting read.
The all girls school next door certainly was fuel to the fire as what else could distract a teenage boy from his video games. The back story of the history teacher known as Howard the Coward shows us that a mind can indeed be stuck in the past by one simple incident; in a way he never stopped being a teenager. The story also shows the difference between the way a teenage girl handles a relationship and the way a teenage boy does, which of course is well used to advance the plot. The various ways people handle pain and suffering is also a major part of the story.
i love the way the book ended, even though lives were shattered as a result of Skippy’s death, there are people who will eventually pull themselves together and unlikely ‘friendships’ form, but there are those who don’t. And in the end, life still goes on.
i have read various reviews for this book before writing this and all i can say is that you either love the book or you don’t.
So dive in at your own risk!
PS: the language used by the characters in the book is NOT for the faint-hearted and i was told that the audio version of this book is really good, it really brings out the Irish feel of the book.