Friday 15 July 2022

Boys Don't Cry by Fíona Scarlett | Book Review

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Boys Don't Cry by Fiona Scarlett
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 20th April 2021

Joe is 17, a gifted artist and a brilliant older brother to 12-year-old Finn. They live with their Ma and Da in a Dublin tower block called ‘the Jax’. It’s not an easy place to be a kid, especially when your father, Frank, is the muscle for the notorious gang leader Dessie ‘The Badger’ Murphy. But whether it’s day trips to the beach or drawing secret sketches, Joe works hard to show Finn life beyond the battered concrete yard below their flat.

Joe is determined not to become like his Da. But when Finn falls ill, Joe finds his convictions harder to cling to. With his father now in prison, his mother submerged in her grief, and his relationships with friends and classmates crumbling, Joe has to figure out how to survive without becoming what the world around him expects him to be.  

What an absolutely beautiful book. I can't believe it is a debut. I am from Belfast and I just love reading work by Irish authors, especially when their books are set in Ireland.

This story is set in Dublin and follows 17 year old Joe and younger brother Finn, who is 12. They are a working-class family living in a flat and their dad is involved in some shady business. Joe gets a scholarship to a prestigious school and things are looking up. He won't end up like his da. But when Finn starts getting nosebleeds and bruises a lot and is later diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, how will Joe cope? The chapters switch between the points of view of Finn during his illness and Joe after Finn's death.

Scarlett writes humour and heartbreak together perfectly. Knowing that Finn is going to die makes for an emotional read and Joe struggling without his brother is a whole other heartbreak. He is adamant he doesn't want to turn into his da but can he stop himself after his brother is gone? 

I loved every single character, I felt every emotion, it is raw and moving and I will be thinking about this one for a while. I truly feel like it needs to be made into a movie.

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