Whilst January went on for 500 days, February absolutely flew by. I didn’t read as much as I’d have liked as I was working on a rather time consuming upcycling project. That’s now finished and I hope to get stuck into my books again. I’ve so many I’m itching to read!
In 1945, sixteen-year-old Catherine Goggin is humiliated by her wicked parish priest. She is ousted from not only the parish but her home in a waft of shame. Alone and with child, she makes her way to Dublin. She befriends Seán MacIntyre en route and he, and his friend Jack, offer to put her up until she finds her feet.
The night her baby is born is one of tragedy and doesn’t make Catherine’s decision any easier. With the help of a nun, she gives her baby to be adopted by a couple on who can give him a life that she never could.
Cyril Avery, not a real Avery according to his adoptive father, is a quiet unassuming boy. He knows he is adopted, his parents, Maud & Charles have never kept it a secret from him. His childhood is not a conventional one, but it’s what he knows.
Cyril knows he is different, he’s not interested in girls the same way his best friend Julian is. If anything he is more interested in Julian. As Cyril grows up, he is riddled with guilt and shame for his seemingly unnatural feelings.
I loved this book, I felt like it was as much a tale of Ireland as it was the life of Cyril Avery. It evoked feelings of anger in me, anger at that Ireland. There were times my heart truly ached and times where I actually laughed out loud. Cyril was extremely witty.
Highly emotional, shocking at times, deeply compassionate on occasions. This is the first of John Boyne’s books I have read, but not the last.
*A NetGalley Review
RULES FOR BEING A MAN
Don’t Cry; Love Sport; Play Rough; Drink Beer; Don’t Talk About Feeling
How Not to be a Boy is a very touching read from Robert Webb. It’s very much a memoir and he leaves no stone unturned. He has delved into the workings of his own mind and given much-needed insight into the detrimental effect gender defining behaviours can have on children, in particular boys, from a very young age.
‘Be a man. Man up. Act like a man. Get a grip. Get real. Get over yourself. Pull yourself together. Sort yourself out. Stop moaning. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You don’t know you’re born. BE A MAN. MAN UP. ACT LIKE A MAN.’
The book comprises of real-life diary entries, memories and reflections from Robert now on his younger self. Robert Webb has proven himself a beautiful writer; the raw emotion portrayed, in particular following his Mother’s death and the realisation that his actions during that time were down to grief were all too real. There is so much tenderness and affection mingling among the pages of his life.
Robert’s early years were quite tragic really, he experienced an awful lot of separation. While this helped form the man he is today, it did not hinder his character. He is incredibly witty and always has been as we learn from his writings.
It is very much a ‘coming of age’ account that knocks the stereotypical ‘boys don’t cry’ shite on the head. I’d certainly recommend it if you haven’t read it.
Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, all of the books I mention in these monthly posts are bought and paid for by myself. Anyone can join NetGalley and provide reviews in exchange for books. This post contains Affiliate Links, further details about Affiliate Links can are available on my disclosure page.