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Small Town Boy,
This review is from: The Fields (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The opening jacket blurb for this book tells us that 'The Fields is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary character: Jim's voice leaps off the page and straight into the reader's heart...', and for once, the blurb gets it exactly right.
Jim Finnegan is a thirteen year old only son in a family of 5 sisters, growing up in Dublin in 1984. The Fields plots his story over a year or so in which his whole life changes and this innocent, loving and slightly cheeky young boy is forced to grow up very fast indeed. It is indeed written as if his voice leaps off the page and you are absolutely captured by him by the time you get to the end of chapter one. His voice is authentic and painfully honest and starts off incredibly naive and innocent. Even as we progress through the book and some horrific twists in his tale mean that he gets some harder edges, all he wants to do is to help the people in his life, often at his own expense.
There are some seriously disturbing descriptions of his encounters with an abusive priest, and author Kevin Maher does not pull any punches in telling Jim's story through this. As the reader is so attached to Jim at this point, it lands an absolute sucker punch which leaves you actually physically winded, and it was at this point that the book started following me around until I had read to the end of his story.
It is so well written, and the supporting characters are all believable, that it takes no time to fly through reading this book. I did notice that with about a third of the book left to go, that Jim starts to get a bit older and wiser and he takes on a bit of a Holden Caulfield echo. This really works in the circumstances, and in fact, leads me to shed a whole new light on 'Catcher'.
A great book, worth reading through the harrowing bits to get to the bits of pure, absolute, beautiful naivety with which Jim embraces his world. I'll be looking for more from Kevin Maher.