Scrappymags 3-word review: Amazing. Heart-breaking. Heart-warming.
Shortest summary ever: Cyril Avery’s life is told in 7-year increments from the time he is born to a teenaged, unwed mother scandalized ala The Scarlet Letter-style, through his rocky and confusing formative years and into old age. His life has never been easy as he struggles to find his place in post WWII Ireland. Issues of societal discrimination, feminism, love, hate… all wrapped up in this gem of a novel.
What’s good under the hood: Can I verbally swoon here? Easily the best of 2017. And I don’t mean ONE of, I mean – THE. BEST. PERIOD.
It warmed and broke my heart at the same time, in a mere matter of pages. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but for instance themes of discrimination – I’ve read multitudes of books with this theme lately (it’s prevalent in society, thus prevalent in literature), but it wasn’t “that” book – it’s unable to be labeled as it touches on so many themes – love, hatred, redemption, cruelty, kindness… and with moments of humor peppered throughout. Keep reading. Just as I was brimming with happiness, I was crying the ugly cry minutes later. Such is life, they say. The epitome of “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” in novel form (ugh my parochial education rears its ugly head, which according to this book is VERY appropo). This is THAT book that gave me all the feels, plus ones I didn’t know I had. The writing is rich, a blanket wrapped around the body in a sweeping saga. Let the length of the book intimidate no one!! It moves like the wind… right through your soul. Every damn page, it’s that good. It rightly nails the human experience eloquently, poignently and with grace. I want to fly to wherever John Boyne, say nothing, hug him, walk away and fly home.
What’s bad or made me mad: Nothing except for the fact that Ireland doesn’t sound as great as I thought it would be.
- Everyone (and I rarely say that)
- Bookclubs – tons to talk about
- A must-read for any historical fiction fan
- Best-seller readers – don’t be intimidated by the length. This book reads FAST.
- You’re touchy about Irish Catholicism (it doesn’t paint it in a positive light)
Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing and the author for an advanced copy, making me swoon, for the puffy eyes and smiles, and for feeling all the feelings of what it means to be… HUMAN.