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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Skippy Dies

Skippy Dies
Paul Murray
Faber and Faber, 2010

We first meet Skippy, a 14-year-old boy at Dublin's venerable Seabrook College, when he dies in the very first chapter. Why Skippy ends up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop and what happens next unravels a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined. With a cast of characters that ranges from hip-hop-loving fourteen-year-old Eoin, MCS executioner, Flynn to basketball playing midget Philip Kilfether, readers will love to eavesdrop on teenage boy conversations and dramas. Packed with questions and answers on everything from Ritalin, to M-theory, to bungee jumping, to the hidden meaning of the poetry of Robert Frost, Skippy Dies is a touching portrait of the pain, joy, and anxiety that adolescence brings.

This is a long, intricately plotted and carefully planned novel that is thoroughly enjoyable and memorable. Readers will identify with teen and adult protagonists in this story: Skippy who is struggling to cope with his mother’s illness; Ruprecht who is a near genius who has his reasons for his string theory obsession; Carl, a psychopath who is in love with the same girl that Skippy is; and Howard, the history teacher who is a former student of the same school. Each character is fleshed out so well that I could imagine his or her life after this glimpse into their world, a world where adults are as confused as the kids are but somehow they try to help each other the best they can.

Warning: make sure you have a block of time to devote to this book; you won’t want to put it down!


Other books by this author:
An Evening of Long Goodbyes (2004)

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Children’s Room by A.S. Byatt (2009)
A tale spanning the end of the Victorian era through World War I finds famous children's book author Olive Wellwood taking in a runaway and exposing the boy to dark truths about her family's summer bacchanals at their rambling country house.

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (2006)
As the new term gets under way at the elite St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, a number of increasingly devastating incidents occurs, leaving the unraveling school in the hands of the only person who can save it, Roy Straitley

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon (2004)
An eighty-nine-year-old former detective in rural England becomes involved with a young refugee from Nazi Germany whose sole companion, an African grey parrot, spews out a series of numbers that could hold the key to a dangerous secret.

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