Novel by Irish writer and teacher Roddy Doyle (born 1955 in Dublin) about one year in the life of a young boy named Patrick "Paddy" Clarke.
The novel takes place in Barrytown, a fictitious Irish suburb in 1966 and acts as a social commentary on the time during which the author himself grew up (although it is not to be seen as autobiographical). It vividly depicts the different scenes, such as the homes of Paddy and his friends, school, and the nearby construction sites in the ever expanding concrete of lower class suburbia.
The most prominent motives of the novel are the social hierarchies (imposed by religion, at school, among peers, and in the families) and relationships. It clearly identifies the unfairness and sickly strict discipline at school as well as the authority, hypocrisy, and economic advantage of the clergy, as manifested by father Damien. All events center around the crumbling marriage of Paddy's parents. The complications imposed by the catholic church, with its prohibition of divorce among other things, are beautifully obscured to oblivion by the naïveté of the narrator, Paddy himself.
Said point of view naturally brings about an egocentric and simplistic narration, largely mimicking the young boy's speech patterns, which are blunt, occasionally to the point of obscenity. The recounting is chronologically linear, but leaps from event to event.
Perhaps the most shocking element of the novel is Paddy's sadistic relationship with his brother, onto whom he continually projects his frustrations. There is no mistake to be made as to the violent and careless nature of the boys brought up in this environment.
The author of this writeup studied a Swedish translation of the novel in association with the International Baccalaureate's Language A1 program. The writeup is based in part on translated notes from that class, attended in the school years of 1999 and 2000. The author is proud to announce that his understanding of the works was deemed good enough to earn him a grade of 7/7.