Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Paddy Clarke is ten years old. He lives with his ma and da, his younger brother Sinbad (``at home he was Francis''), and two baby sisters in the Dublin working-class neighborhood of Barrytown. Paddy spends his days with his friends Kevin, Aiden, and Liam, roaming local construction sites (it's the late 1960s, and suburbia is creeping over the Irish countryside), writing their names in wet cement, conducting Viking funerals for dead rats, and torturing Sinbad (``Big brothers hated their little brothers. They had to. It was the rule.''). At night, Paddy listens vigilantly for the sounds of his parents fighting, whispering the magic word ``Stop'' to end it. Filled with the same earthy humor and pungent Irish dialog that marked Doyle's earlier novels ( The Commitments , Vintage, 1989; The Snapper and The Van , LJ 7/92), this book is also a vivid and poignant portrait of a little boy trying to make sense of the adult world. As Paddy Clarke himself would say, it is `` brilliant,'' well deserving of the 1993 Booker Prize . The U.S. publication date of this book was changed from April 1994 to December after it won the prize.--Ed.-- Wilda Williams, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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Winning the 1993 Booker Prize propelled Doyle's fourth novel from its original spring publication to a December issue date. While retaining the candid pictures of family life, the swift, energetic prose, the ear-perfect vernacular dialogue and the slap-dash humor that distinguished The Van , The Snapper and The Commitments , this narrative has more poignance and resonance . Set in the working-class environment of an Irish town in the late 1960s, the story is related by bright, sensitive 10-year-old Paddy Clarke, who, when we first meet him, is merely concerned with being as tough as his peers. Paddy and his best friend Kevin are part of a neighborhood gang that sets fires in vacant buildings, routinely teases and abuses younger kids and plays in forbidden places. In episodic fashion, Doyle conveys the activities, taboos and ceremonies, the daring glee and often distorted sense of the world of boys verging on adolescence. As Paddy becomes aware that his parents' marriage is disintegrating, Doyle's control of his protagonist's voice remains unerring, and the gradual transition of Paddy's thoughts from the hurly-burly of play and pranks to a growing fear and misery about his father's alcoholic and abusive behavior is masterfully realized. While some topical references may bewilder readers unfamiliar with life in Ireland, other background details--the portrayal of small-town society, of the strict teacher who shows sudden empathy for Paddy--have universal interest. Most notable, however, is the emotional fidelity with which Doyle conveys Paddy's anguished reaction to the breakup of his family. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

YA-A look at the daily exploits and thoughts of a 10-year-old Irish boy. As the story progresses, readers become more and more aware of the anguish that Paddy Clarke is feeling as he becomes conscious of the impending breakup of his parents' marriage. They may find it disconcerting to see the pain he inflicts on others (preferably younger or weaker boys) for the sheer ``fun'' of it and the dangerous antics of Paddy and his friends. The novel is powerfully written and slowly draws readers into the protagonist's complex personality. However, in spite of the critical acclaim the book has gotten, its lack of a straightforward plot and its violence and petty lawlessness to the exclusion of the character development may limit its appeal to YAs.-Shirley Blaes, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.