Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins

This is an absolutely beautiful first novel by Cummins, and I do love a well-written first novel - it bodes well for the future.  An Irish writer, Cummins sets this story in 1959 Ireland, following an Irish family of rovers.  Known as Pavees, or travelers, or inaccurately as Gypsies, the Hurley family lives a thousand-year tradition of the ancient Irish.  Moving from town to town in their traveling wagons, the Hurleys are vilified and reviled everywhere they go.  The main character is an absolutely delightful 12 year-old boy named Christy, with his sidekick cousin to provide the earthiness and reality of the traveling lifestyle.  In order to take their first communion, the family must settle down in a town, necessitating attendance at a Catholic school, which comes with the relentless abuse from the other children.  But in Christy, Cummins has created a wise, introspective, young boy who persistently searches for answers about his dead mother, the meaning of his grandfather's death, and a way to live in a world that hates his way of life.  This is a 'coming of age' story with great heart and soul that gives one insight into a way of life of which we know little
.  I give it a heartfelt, resounding recommendation.

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