According to the blurb, this is “soulful and stunningly written”. The quote is by Lisa Jewell, an author of chick lit fiction.

I was hopeful when I got this book from the local book club as the cover showing a boy standing on a piece of flotsam on a shore with arms stretched out, Christ-like, as he gazes across the water implied something interesting. Added to this is the fact that Tony Black was highly thought of by Irvine Welsh, who called him his favourite British crime writer. This novel however is semi-autobiographical about a boy, Marti, and his father Joey/Bluey who start off in Australia living with the mother Shauna.

If you choose to read this novel there are some phrases that you’d better get used to: – “the black dog, a reddener, the hot arse, a holy show…” to name but four. Presumably the character of the boy is being repetitious because he is young and confused and an unreliable witness but the fact that every other chapter is written in his voice became tedious for me after a while. Stereotypes abound and even although there is an attempt to round out the characters of the parents, reading of drunken men gambling away every penny they have, porridge kept in a drawer and cut into slices and the cabbage farm that is threatened every time the black dog happens made this a novel where likable characters are few and far between.

The only thing that was vaguely interesting was the description of what bold boys get up to when they go on the mitch. Life in a school run by brothers was funny to read about and it gave me my only page-turning moments and a few laughs.

There could have been a good novel in here somewhere but I suspect that too much of the good stuff has been edited out in favour of the “Oirish” to appeal to maybe an American market who mist over when they hear the strains of Danny Boy, begorra.

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