Emma Mooney takes the reader to that strange place inhabited by adolescent boys: confusing, sometimes scary, and above all tribal. The story addresses the tough issues of drink and domestic abuse, and the main character's stoicism and hope despite all that his circumstances throw at him get us onside throughout, despite his many wayward and self-destructive choices. She has a real depth of understanding of what it is like to be a sub-teenage boy, with all its awkwardness and striving for acceptance by the peer group; and also what it is like to be the perennial odd one out. It is a good story, well told, and Mooney knows exactly where to bring it to a satisfying but believable end. An excellent debut.