3.5 stars – Recommended. I found this novel creative, engaging and fast paced. Through the eyes of a 10 year old boy, and a 43 year old psychiatrist analysing him, the author brought about two very contrasting viewpoints of a brain disorder. The story is written against the backdrop of the aftermath of years of chaos in Northern Ireland, which brings to light the long-lasting destructive effects of political instability on the general population. This not only highlights the challenges faced by present day Northern Irish men and women, but it also suggest to the readers how other societies can suffer for generations after enduring war and comparable devastation.
When I finished the book I pleased with the novel overall and was prepared to present a 5 star review. However, once I digested the ending, I was reminded of how infrequent it was for a disadvantaged child suffering from a serious mental condition to experience an ending as neat and as optimistic as the one presented in the book. My personal experience of public mental health system is far from the idealistic manner described by the author. In general social workers and doctors are overworked and do not have the luxury of dedicating this much time and energy to one patient. When a child loses their primary caregiver, it would be extremely lucky that he/she could have a guardian as good as the one in this story swooping in and making life all so much better. There is a sense of a ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Disney’ style ‘Happily Ever After’, which is disappointing because aside from the ending the book had presented a very realistic yet lighthearted view of an otherwise dark subject.