Book Reviews: Boys Behaving Badly and a Lonely Old Woman

At any given time, I am involved in a novel. If I’m not reading something, you should probably check for a pulse.

During the last few weeks, I’ve read two books I thought I’d share with you–if only as a warning for the fainthearted.

The first book is SO well-written that it’s worth reading just for the author’s skill. “Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray is a brutal look at boys at a boarding school in Ireland and, as the title implies, Skippy dies. This is not a spoiler, it’s the title of the book and the boy dies in the first chapter–so don’t freak out on me. The rest of the story retraces the months before his death and the events leading up to that fateful day. It’s really long and took me a while to get into but it’s an interesting look at the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. With at least one dozen different perspectives, “Skippy Dies” covers every possible personality.

Skippy falls in love, his roommate is obsessed with multiple universes, a drug-dealing freako is out to get him and his history teacher is experiencing a mid-life crisis–in his early twenties. From Irish folklore to quantum physics, the novel is interesting and brilliant.

“Skippy Dies” is NOT for anyone easily offended. Graphic scenes detail the horrible things teens do to themselves and each other. Sex, drugs, psychopath characters and pedophile priests: It’s all in there. SO BE WARNED. But if our modern society has numbed you to lurid descriptions, then you might enjoy “Skippy Dies.” I gave it 3 1/2 starts (out of 5).

If you are afraid of getting old and living alone with your dog while your children live out-of-state and rarely visit, this book might not be for you. “Emily, Alone” by Stewart O’nan is a melancholy depiction of an elderly woman’s life and all the tiny details that make up her existence. She LIVES for phone calls from her kids and grandkids. An outing to the breakfast buffet each week with her sister-in-law is one thing she looks forward to. Her husband has been dead for years and she frequently attends funerals for her friends.

Regrets, fears, past experiences and frustrations make up most of Emily’s days. She’s basically waiting to die. Or waiting for her dog to die. Or waiting for her friends to die. Or eating waffles. Quite depressing (death–not waffles).

The author is really good at getting into the mind of an older woman, describing the things she worries about (getting rid of her husband’s luggage, not getting thank-you cards from her grandkids) and the book is well-written–just a little bit of a downer.

I think I’ll go look at cemetery plots. (3 stars)

If you’re reading something good (NOT Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steele or other serial authors), drop me a line and let me know!

One thought on “Book Reviews: Boys Behaving Badly and a Lonely Old Woman

  1. this is a good review but you could have explained the genre and plot better
    if i was to judge this i would give it a c-


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