Book Event

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Death in Dublin

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Skippy dies, there is no doubt about this. The title proclaims it and in the first pages of this book Daniel "Skippy" Juster collapses in the local doughnut shop, writing "tell Lori" in the raspberry filling that he manages to squeeze from a jelly doughnut before he expires. The next 600 something pages (it was originally published in three volumes) of this absorbing novel explores what brought Skippy to this end and what happens to those around him after the tragedy.

Set in an all-boy Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, the story draws you in to the lives of the teens and teachers who populate the school as they cope with the casual cruelties and deeper tragedies of life. Here you meet Ruprecht, Skippy's roommate, who is "A hamster-cheeked boy with a chronic weight problem.." and is obsessed with string theory. There is Lori the girl Skippy falls for, a beautiful but troubled girl from the neighboring girl's school and her drug dealing, bullying boyfriend Carl. Howard is an alumni of the school who has returned in disgrace from his job in finance to take up a teaching position and must deal with bored students and a stagnant relationship. Most of all there is Skippy, a seemingly unremarkable, sensitive 14 year old boy who is struggling to get by.

In this complex novel told from multiple viewpoints, Murray beautifully writes not only about the growing pains of adolescence, but also the struggles of adulthood. The characters may appear stereotypical at first, but the author fleshes them out and makes them seem like real people. This challenging book is worth the effort.

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