Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

The title of the book tells us just what happens, and in the first scene, Skippy does die.  But why?  The rest of the book describes the weeks leading up to his death and the weeks following it, and how his fellow classmates and teachers at his private school in Dublin miss the signs and then cope with Skippy's death.

I put off reading this book for about two and half years.  I read some rave reviews of it, and it seemed like my kind of book.  But then I'd leave it sitting on my shelf.  I was afraid of disappointment.  Thankfully, I was not disappointed!

The story had be hooked from the first page.  I mean, Skippy is dead!  But who is Skippy?  What's he like?  Why is he suddenly dead in a donut shop??  I needed to find out.

The boys at the boarding school were so much fun to read about.  Ruprecht was my favorite-he was always lost in an experiment or trying to connect with extraterrestrials with his radio.  The teachers too had their own quirks that kept me interested.  For instance, Howard the Coward was always dreaming of a bigger and better life.  He was unhappy with his longterm girlfriend.  But was that because they weren't right for each other or because he always wanted something more and couldn't see what he had right there in front of him?

The books is about Skippy, but it's also about the other people who are a part of Skippy's life.  The boys are all adolescents, slowly growing to realize that life isn't going to be all rainbows and sunshine.  You grow up daydreaming about being an astronaut or a rock star, but you don't ever think of how hard or impossible that journey is.  Here's one of my favorite quotes that pretty much sums up the feeling:
Page 25: You know, you spend your childhood watching TV, assuming that at some point in the future everything you see there will one day happen to you: that you too will win a Formula One race, hop a train, foil a group of terrorists, tell someone 'Give me the gun,' etc.  Then you start secondary school, and suddenly everyone's asking you about your career plans and you long-term goals, and by goals they don't mean the kind you are planning to score in the FA Cup.  Gradually the awful truth dawns on you: that Santa Claus was just the tip of the iceberg-that your future will not be the rollercoaster ride you'd imagined, that the world occupied by your parents, the world of washing dishes, going to the dentist, weekend trips to the DIY superstore to buy floor-tiles, is actually largely what people mean when they speak of 'life'.

I'm sure you know the feeling.

So anyway, read this book.  The writing is fantastic, and Murray manages to make all his characters real people.  You get to know them and all their faults, and boy does he know how to write adolescent boys!

On a final note, just because you're all grown up doesn't mean you can't still believe in Santa Claus :)

Title: Skippy Dies
Author: Paul Murray
Date of Publication: 2011
Number of Pages: 672
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy

1 comment:

  1. I was afraid of reading this, too, out of possible disappointment, so good to know it's as good as the hype!