Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins

(summary from goodreads)

A poignant debut novel of an Irish gypsy boy's childhood in the 1950's by the author of the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven.

Ireland, 1959: Young Christy Hurley is a Pavee gypsy, traveling with his father and extended family from town to town, carrying all their worldly possessions in their wagons. Christy carries with him a burden of guilt as well, haunted by the story of his mother's death in childbirth. The peripatetic life is the only one Christy has ever known, but when his grandfather dies, everything changes. His father decides to settle down temporarily in a town where Christy and his cousin can attend mass and receive proper schooling. But they are still treated as outsiders.

As Christy's exposure to a different life causes him to question who he is and where he belongs, the answer may lie with an old newspaper photograph and a long-buried family secret that could change his life forever...

Review: What initially drew me to this book was the fact that it was a historical novel and that it had family secrets. Family secrets are always fun. What I found was amazing for completely different reasons. 

The Outside Boy started out slow moving and stayed that way for most of the book, but the characters were what kept it moving along. This was truly a character based book and without them it would not have been as good. Christy is the main character and has a lot of internal thought and monologues going on. The reader truly sees what it's like to live as a traveler in a society where travelers are shunned. Christy's friends added humor when needed but also served as serious characters at times. His family really showed the reader what his life is like and how they deal with work and living as travelers. 

I was truly shocked by the revelation of what happened to Christy's mom. I think that, besides the characters, the ending really said something about the book. By finding out what happened to his mom Christy had to make a choice of how he was going to live the rest of his life. That's a pretty big decision for a 12 year old to make, but through Jeanine's amazing writing you see that as a gypsy Christy has to be more mature and learn how to deal with life, and this, at least for me, shed some light on why he made the choice he did. 

Overall this was a great historical novel. It was sow moving throughout but give it some time and you'll be happy you did.

Source: Finished copy received from publisher

Published: June 1, 2010 by New American Library 

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