‘Being pushed in a Tesco trolley round the back of the flat.
Joe giving us all a shot, but letting me stay the longest.
Pushing me faster.
Spinning and laughing while crashing into the overflowing double-steel bins’
– Boys Don’t Cry
[ About Boys Don’t Cry ]
They say boys don’t cry.
But Finn’s seen his Da do it when he thinks no one’s looking, so that’s not true.
And isn’t it OK to be sad, when bad things happen?
They say boys don’t cry, but you might . .
[ My Review ]
Boys Don’t Cry by Fíona Scarlett published April 22nd 2021 with Faber & Faber and is described as ‘authentic to the bone’ by Kit de Waal. A book that has been on my radar, and in my reading pile, for quite some time, I decided to dive in last week. What I hadn’t expected was how immediately I would be committed to this stunning debut.
Boys Don’t Cry is the story of a dysfunctional family living in The Jax, one of four tower blocks of flats in Dublin. Finn and Joe are two brothers who live with a stressed out mother and a father who has done time for various crimes. Joe is the older of the two, a gifted artist with little hope for his future. But Joe’s talent has earned him a scholarship in a school that immediately positions him in a lonely space, that of the outsider among students from socially different backgrounds to his. Joe has tried to fit in but these boys see him as someone where trouble brews. It’s hard to shake off the reputation that is cast on him and at times, Joe gets frustrated and acts out. The school principal offers encouragement to Joe with any assistance he requires. The potential is evident but Joe is struggling. When a life altering event changes everything, Joe is thrust into the unenviable position of facing one of his worst nightmares. Joe’s life gets tangled up in knots and like a ripple effect the dominoes begin to fall. Joe will need to be strong to see this rough time through but can he?
Finn is a young boy with dreams. He loves hanging out with his friends, eating ice-cream, swimming in the sea, sneaking into the cinema with Joe, and his red Transformer that his Da gave him for his birthday. Finn is very underwhelmed when he has to undertake a number of medical procedures as all Finn wants is to be outside playing with his buddies and having the craic. But Finn is about to face an enormous challenge, one with devastating consequences for all. Finn is an innocent child who sees the world from a different perspective. This is his story.
Boys Don’t Cry depicts the life of a family impacted by gangland crime, living in a working class area of Dublin. Split into two parallel storylines, that of Joe and Finn, the reader is taken on two intertwining journeys as each attempts to cope with the cards dealt them. Joe, on the cusp of adulthood has the choice of two roads, to follow in his father’s footsteps or to try and remove himself from the cycle of crime that he knows only too well and start afresh. Finn is an innocent young boy with no true realisation of society at large. As he faces devastating news, his thoughts and words provide the reader with an extraordinary insight into the mind of a child when dealing with terrifying news.
Fíona Scarlett has written a truly incredible piece of fiction. I was absolutely blown away by the enormity of the impact it had on me. Finn and Joe have taken up permanent residence in my heart. The authentic depiction of their lives and the struggles they encountered on a daily basis are stunningly written in this powerful piece of fiction that will leave every reader bereft.
A vague review I know but you’re just going to have to trust me with this one. I literally hid away in my house and did not come up for air until I turned the final page. This is a book that engages from the opening sentence and does not let you go until the final page is turned. An unforgettable reading experience, Boys Don’t Cry is an emotional and compelling tale, a powerful and seriously impressive debut, one that I am struggling to put words to but one that I highly recommend.
[ Bio ]
Fíona Scarlett is from Dublin but now living in Co. Kildare with her husband and two children. She holds an MLitt in creative writing from the University of Glasgow as well as a masters in early childhood education. She was awarded the Denis O’Driscoll Literary Bursary through Kildare County Council in 2019 and a Literature Bursary through the National Arts Council Ireland in 2020. She works full time as a primary school teacher and Boys Don’t Cry is her debut novel.
Twitter ~ @Scarlett_for_ya