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The Heart’s Invisible Furies

By John Boyne


580 pages

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne What’s it about? It is 1945 and 16-year-old Catherine Googin finds herself pregnant and alone in a small Irish town.  After the parish priest casts Catherine out of town in a very public way- she makes her way to Dublin.  Catherine will reappear again in this novel but the main character is Catherine’s out of wedlock son- Cyril Avery.  Cyril has a lonely childhood with his adoptive family.   It is the 1950’s and the Catholic Church rules Dublin with an iron fist.  In this time and place Cyril discovers that he is attracted to boys not girls.   And the novel thus really begins…. What did I think? Wow!  John Boyne really has a bone to pick with the Catholic Church of Ireland.  His writing is beautiful but the story goes lots of different directions.  Boyne does a good job of demonstrating how heart-wrenching being a young gay teenager was in a time of repression.  However at times I just wanted to Cyril to be honest with someone- anyone….  At heart this is a character driven novel.  The plot sometimes goes awry and I didn’t always like Cyril, but it drew me in all the same. Should you read it? I enjoyedmostof this book.  It is certainly a reminder of how painful life can be if you are not in the majority.   It is also an interesting look at the harm that religion can do when it is more interested in the rules- than in the person. Quote- “But for all we had, for all the luxury to which we were accustomed, we were both denied love, and this deficiency would be scorched into our future lives like an ill-considered tattoo inscribed on the buttocks after a drunken night out, leading each of us inevitably toward isolation and disaster.”

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