There is an on-going joke among my bookish friends and I that I will read anything classified as ‘a poignant coming of age story.’ This could be one of the reasons why I gravitate towards children’s fiction and YA, but I read my fair share of adult literary fiction as well. The Fields was a fantastic literary read that combines my two of my favourite things, a precocious first person narrator and a coming-of-age story.
Jim is the only boy in a brood of girls growing up in South Dublin in 1984. He is hopelessly and tragically in love with the dazzling and sophisticated Saidhbh Donohue—who happens to be the girlfriend of a local thug. But Jim’s talent for singing old Irish tunes captures the attention not just of Saidhbh but also that of the dangerous Father O’Culigeen. Bounced between his love for Saidhbh and the abuse he receives at the hands of O’Culigeen, Jim’s life starts to go off the tracks and drastic measures must be taken to set things right.
I couldn’t get enough of Jim- he was a disarming, sweet and honest narrator. I loved how he made the best of some terrible situations. His sense of humour, hope and optimism balance the truly horrific abuse he receives at the hands of Father O’Culigeen. This was a visceral and addictive read, much like Lullabies for Little Criminals or A Complicated Kindness, with shades of Angela’s Ashes. You will find yourself laughing out loud, gasping, and ultimately rooting for Jim.