I ordered two books to take on vacation with me last week: Kathryn Stockett's The Help and Paul Murray's Skippy Dies. Skippy arrived first so instead of being pulled into Mississippi in the 1960s, I was completely transported to an expensive Catholic school in Celtic Tiger-era Ireland ... and into the heads of fourteen-year old boys. I deliberated about taking Skippy with me because I was worried that it might be too heavy for the beach. I was right; it is heavy (in every way), but my only regret about taking this 600-page book with me on vacation is that I waited until the third day to start it.
Longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, Skippy Dies is not, in fact a tragedy about Australia’s tutting Lassie; it's the tale of a group of fourteen-year-old boys—and the adults who teach them—in an elite boarding school in South Dublin. Skippy being the hero, or the antihero, who falls for Lori, a (dangerously) beautiful girl from the convent school next door. In the opening scene, Skippy dies (sorry to spoil that for you) during a doughnut-eating race with his roommate, Ruprecht, and writes Lori's name on the floor in strawberry syrup; the book then tracks back to discover how his death came about. That flashback is a rollercoaster ride and read, at times heartwarming and heartbreaking, gutbusting and gutwrenching, deeply funny and deeply depressing, and highly recommended/not recommended at all if you have a fourteen-year-old!
A must for your Irish bookshelf. Read it soon because Neil Jordan is working on a screen adaptation (Yay! Skippy lives on!).
Buy Skippy Dies: A Novel
I'm off to read Paul Murray's first novel An Evening of Long Goodbyes next.