It is understandable why Roddy Doyle's fourth novel, `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha', was awarded the 1993 Man Booker prize. Despite initially being a tale about a young boy's "fun and adventure" during 1960's Ireland, the novel expresses deeper meaning, conveying the drastic effect family life can have on a child.
The early part of the novel can seem confusing, with no clear chronological structure. In one paragraph, Paddy is being stung by stinging nettles - in the next, he is at home learning about fingerprints from his "da". Yet, do not let this dissuade you. After the first dozen pages, it is clear that Doyle mixes up time periods and key events - an effective technique that portrays the confusion of Paddy about his parents' deteriorating relationship. The lack of ordered structure only increases the empathy felt for Paddy in this moving story.
Despite addressing somewhat serious matters, Doyle includes snippets of child-like humor throughout, which will not fail to make you smile. Doyle's incorporation of humor will have you reminiscing about your own childhood memories - the games you played, the nicknames you made, and the adventures you had. He captures innocence in a way that will make you want to protect Paddy from the harsh realities of life, be his friend.
Whilst this is not necessarily an "I-can't-wait-to-get-home-and-read-it" book, it is nevertheless compelling when you do pick it up and start reading. Doyle involves the reader in Paddy's life, narrating it from his point of view, and allowing us to see his inner thoughts and feelings. The closer you near the end of the book, the clearer it is that Paddy's home life has changed him from a boy who was once scared of the dark, to one who, in "pitch black ... still wasn't scared". This is a novel that will certainly appeal to readers looking for an emotional escapade.