I read this book as a part of The Literary Others October LGBT History event. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and the response below is my honest opinion and I received no compensation.
This book did not get off to a good start with me; ending your first chapter referring to the potential birth mother of your child as just ‘the womb’ really bothered me. I felt it was incredibly misogynistic, an accusation two of the main characters made towards each other later in the book, but I also felt it was too jarring in the beginning of the story and put me on edge for the rest of the story.
I do feel that Lowenthal developed the characters further than that first chapter gave them credit, both male and female characters, but that really put me on edge and made it difficult to identify with and feel sympathy for Pat and Stu. But, if there is one thing he did do great it was the personality quirks of all the characters. From describing Deborah’s exotic Brazilian Portuguese accent to the adorable story about Pat and Stu when they moved into their first place together and stacked plates the same way for the same reason.
This book was both brilliant and boring. There were times when I couldn’t stop reading and times when all I wanted to do was abandon the book for another. Mostly I’m glad I finished it and hopefully it is one of those books that in a few weeks/months I’ll appreciate having read it.
I was excited about seeing Eire speak at the upcoming Boston Book Festival and I still plan on going to the panel, but I’m not as excited as I was. This isn’t the first book I’ve read that let me down. Leaving it on my list for so long without reading it, removed a lot of the luster and excitement from when I first found it and wanted to read it. Either way I can’t get my copy signed as Tom accidentally spilled water all over it and I had to check out a new version from the library to finish reading it (the main impetus in actually finishing it).
First, I want to share that this book is staying on my shelf to re-read again and again. Emma Donoghue recommended Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha at her book reading back in May and I randomly found a copy at the Goodwill in Maine and purchased it. And I am glad for both of these!
Second, the more books I read featuring young protagonists the more I wonder if I’m interested in just coming of age or if it’s the portrayal of youth and childish innocence. Does it stem from my own childish wonderment at the world? I have a paradoxical sense of both childish wonderment and aged skepticism.
It is the story of 10-year-old Patrick Clarke. He’s growing up with a younger brother and two younger sisters, his best friend is Kevin and they have a gang of friends that explore the neighborhood and cause as much trouble as 10-year-old boys cause.
Doyle’s narrative is interesting, it’s truly like a 10-year-old is talking to you (or you’re listening to me). As you’re reading, you’ll follow the actions and then Patrick throws in tangential facts. I LOVED this of course as the 10-year-old kids I know/knew wanted so much to impress you with what they know. I want to go back and reread the novel, but write 10-years-old on my hand so that I can remember how young he is throughout the novel, as I was reading I would forget and assume Patrick was older and then he would do something and it was brazenly obvious he was so young.