Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray


The story opens with the tragic death of a schoolboy, Skippy, in a donut house. If this were a film, the pre-credits would be gripping! It then rewinds to the events leading up to this moment and filling in the blanks around the drama.

Set in the most prestigious public school in Ireland, we are treated to a tragic-comic story of a handful of adolescent young men, two of their teachers, and a girl from the adjacent school.

This is an astonishingly well-written book that bubbles along on many levels. There is the comedy you’d expect from a book set in a boarding school, with such clear observation and analysis that one can only assume Murray had first hand knowledge. But there is also a dark underbelly to this book that reveals an honesty about these establishments, the people who run them, and indeed the challenges for young people today – most notably commenting on the shocking availability of prescription drugs used to ‘control’ a misbehaving youth.

I don’t want to go into plot detail in this write-up, as I would suggest this is a book that benefits from the element of surprise. So, if you want a gripping, funny, tragic and sometimes haunting read this summer, I can wholeheartedly recommend Skippy Dies.

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