This is brilliant fiction – it’s engaging, amusing and refreshing. For too long, the hilarity of boarding school life has been overshadowed by wizardry and hockey sticks. Skippy Dies is set in an Irish Boys Catholic boarding school, and the story flows around the boys, their infatuations (typically girls, science and “fake” drugs – in that order), bored teachers and pushy parents. From the start you lurch between the hilarious banter thrown about by Irish teenage boys, all buddies of Skippy, shacked up at Seabrook College, and the emotional turmoil of teacher Howard (the Coward) Fallon. The teenage characters are delightful, as well as crude and obsessed, as you would expect, but also laugh-out-loud funny. I defy anyone to read the scene of the school bop without cringeing and squirming in your seat. You might not have been to a boarding school, but we have all been teenagers and it’s even better to read about it from the point of view of the opposite sex. I defy anyone to read the scene of the school bop without cringeing and squirming in your seat. The relationships between the grown-ups in the novel are gloomy and often depressing, but the unravelling of certain relationships and particular characters towards the end is done captivating. It’s a big book, without a lot of female characters, at least not many that have anything to say, but you will read every word, every page. It’s superbly well written and you will be utterly “charmed” by these teenage boys. Read it and pass it on.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, £6.29 at Waterstones.com
- Lucinda Greasley