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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Outside Boy

The Outside Boy
Jeanine Cummins
New American Library, 2010

Christy Hurley is almost 12 in 1959 Ireland. He and his father are Pavee Travelers who move with his father’s extended family from town to town, carrying all their worldly possessions in their wagons. Christy carries with him a burden of guilt as well, haunted by the story of his mother's death in childbirth. He has no friends but his cousin and his dad, but everything changes when his grandfather dies. Not only does his father decides to settle down temporarily in a town where Christy and his cousin can attend mass and receive proper schooling, but Christy discovers a piece of newsprint in his grandfather’s things that proves to be very puzzling. Determined to find the answers to the puzzle, Christy begins to investigate his own past. Soon his questions make his father uncomfortable and Christy is forced to sneak around to find answers – answers that soon make him suspect everything he knows and loves.

I enjoyed reading about Christy and his longing to belong. He and his dad have a great relationship, but Christy is at the age where he questions everything – something his dad has no patience for. When Christy begins to suspect the stories he’s been told about his mother’s death are not true, the reader is afraid for Christy and his father –afraid that their relationship will not survive any revelations of what really happened. I enjoyed reading about this alternative way of life in a place and time not so far away, but I especially enjoyed seeing the world through the hopeful, anticipating eyes of a 12 year old boy.


This is the author’s first novel.

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (2010)
Enjoying an active but lonely rural life, 70-year-old Percy haplessly allows a progressive preschool to move into his barn and transform his quiet home into a lively, youthful community that compels him to reexamine the choices he made in the decades after his wife's death.

The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore (2010)
Born to prominent but dysfunctional Nashville parents, Bezellia Grove leans on disregarded African-American servants as substitute family figures and incites wrath from both groups when she pursues an interracial relationship.

Life in Miniature by Linda Schlossberg (2010)
After her sister Miriam runs away, Adie is left behind with their mother, who, convinced that their lives are in danger, takes her on a crazy adventure across northern California where Adie unexpectedly embarks on her own journey of self-discovery.

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