Wednesday 28 April 2021

Boys Don't Cry by Fiona Scarlett @Scarlett_for_ya @FaberBooks #BoysDontCry @laurennicoll_ #BookReview #Giveaway #Win #Prize #Competition


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 Bojaxhiu or '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 daytrips 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.

Boys Don't Cry by Fiona Scarlett is published on 6 May 2021 by Faber. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Boy's Don't Cry is the author's debut novel, it's a short book at just over 220 pages, and the praise that it has garnered from well known authors, some of whom are big favourites of mine, has been outstanding. 

I read this in one day, and every single word of praise that I've seen is so well deserved. It's a book that evokes both tears and laughter within just a few pages. It is authentic and sensitive, hard hitting and poignant. It is a story of families, communities and loss, and I loved every single word. 

Growing up in a Dublin tower block is not an easy life. Kids grow up surrounded by the sights and sounds of violence, drugs and despair. The bland concrete area between the tower blocks is the only place to hang out, and is, just like the rest of the surroundings, grey and dank with no hint of beauty or nature. 

Seventeen-year-old Joe and his younger brother Finn have seen more than their fair share of violence and brutality over the years. Their Da is part of a well-known criminal gang, their Ma tries her best to keep her boys on the straight and narrow, but it's difficult to escape the clutches of those who live amongst you. Joe is a talented artist and recently won a scholarship to a private school. Joe does his best to ensure that Finn has treats. Finn is a happy go lucky twelve-year-old, with many friends and a favourite teacher. He's aware of the tensions around him but knows for sure that Joe will always watch out for him.

Unexpected nosebleeds and unexplained bruising on Finn's limbs bring life to a grinding halt, and his world soon becomes a round of needles and chemo and hair loss. Finn's outlook is positive. As far as he is concerned, he will ring that bell to announce that his cancer is gone, and then he'll go back to school, to football and to swinging from the bike rails. 

Finn doesn't make it. It is not a spoiler to reveal this, the author cleverly structures her novel so that the reader is aware from the outset that this happens. The story is told in the 'now' as Joe and his family deal with the aftermath of their loss, and also in the 'then'. It's a wonderful way for the reader to get to know Finn; to hear his dreams and his ambitions, to experience his thoughts as he lay in hospital, and to see the unconditional love between him and Joe. 

This is superb writing, the author really has such a talent. This book is one that will evoke every emotion from anger, to compassion, despair and hope. Utterly wonderful, and sure to be in my top books of this year. 

I have one hardback copy of Boys Don't Cry to give away

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget below. UK entries only


One hardback copy of Boys Don't Cry by Fiona Scarlett

Fíona Scarlett is from Dublin but now living in Co. Kildare with her husband and two

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

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