The Origins of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M. O’Connor

imageIn the summer of ’96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of eighteen, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies.

Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

 

The day after his 18th birthday Benjamin finds out that he is adopted.  He is shocked but most of all angry for the lie his parents have kept from him all his time.  After seeing the parish priest who arranged the adoption he goes on a quest to find out who is parents are.  This sets him on a path that takes him into the underbelly of Cork and aligning himself with questionable characters to help him get to the truth.  With JJ helping him unquestionably as a friend should, he finds what he is looking for.  Will he keep what he found out to himself or will he blow apart the world of the people who raised him and others around him to satisfy his every building anger?

The opening few pages of the book had me laughing.  The writing and language is great, the local lingo and manners of speaking brought me right back to when I was in Ireland.  Benjamin was right to be angry but the story is a long and winding one that brought him to the truth.  it’s a tall yarn that only the Irish can write and get away with.  It’s not your typical coming of age story.  I loved the first and third part of the story.  The middle third with him and JJ’s goings on in Cork were farfetched. It did add to to the story but I found it dragging a bit in my opinion.  The whole thing with the way they wanted to break into the convent to find out his parentage was just way to out there.

In saying that it was a good read and brought me to 90’s Ireland. I also could tell that this was written by a Corkman even before i realised that the writer is from Cork.  Stories set in the west usually have a certain feel and desolation to them, just as you can can tell a Dublin writer as well.  Having worked for a Corkman you can get some of they lyrical way of the county in this story. It’s a good first novel from Mr. O’Connor

ARC provided by Netgalley for a fair and honest review

3.5  stars

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Weightless by Sara Bannan

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Adamsville Alabama is like any small southern town. They worship God, pray at school events and cheer on their football team. Girls talk about makeup, fashion, who the hottest boy is, things that teenage girls all over talk about. Brook is a cheerleader going out with THE best looking guy in school, Shane and her best friend Gemma, who is the preacher’s daughter, is dating Andrew. All of this changes when a new girl moves to Adamsville from New Jersey. Carolyn is 15 and is everything the local girls want to be. She is popular, pretty, and thin and uses designer products and wears designer clothes.

When school starts Carolyn becomes very popular with everybody. She makes lots of friends but when she is seen with Shane things start to turn against her. Brook and Gemma start making comments, nothing big but comments that start to circulate. Brook talks about Carolyn behind her back… then starts to post comments on Face book. Little things that other know are wrong, or right depending on whom you talk to. Girls start to talk about Carolyn, commenting on her weight, how much she has lost, and about her clothes, her hair, and what she is doing. She becomes a person of fascination and also one of contempt.

As the book progresses things start to spiral downward and gets more out of control.

This is a book about bullying modern day style. Where social media can play a big part of an individuals down fall. Videos and text messages are a new form of bullying platform. It also highlights how much worse girls are towards each other, the jealousy and pettiness that some girls of that age obsess about. I think that in many ways girls are far worse bullies that guys can be. It was pretty intese what these girls did and also scary at how much they banded together to gang up on one girl who was, while not completely blameless for what was going on, battling her own demons and was going about things best she could.

This is a book that should be read in junior high, even though it takes place in high school. It’s written at a level for kids of that age group and written in a style that they can understand. Parents can get something out of this as well, a better understanding of just how much social media can be used as a new form of bullying and how kids react, or don’t, to what is going on around them

ARC recieved by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

4/5 stars

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

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Hank, Lee, Ronny and Kip all grew up together in a small farming community of Little Wing. The land is in their blood. Each man grew they went to discover their own lives. Hank, married his childhood sweetheart Beth, who all the other guys know and grew up with as well, Lee chased his dreams of being a musician, Kip went onto become a big shot commodities broker in Chicago and Ronny became an rodeo star.

The stories are told, at first in a whole, then as individual chapters. You see how Ronny who’s star rose and quickly fell due to alcoholism and an accident, which left him a bit slower than the rest. Lee who became a star but could never leave behind his hometown and found peace from a hectic lifestyle. Hank, who never left, found solace in the land and in his family. Kip eventually returned home to renovate a run down mill that featured heavily in their childhoods. They all remain friends and share their lies together. Weddings happen and heartaches come along as well . Things go on as normal until a deep held secret comes out which could impact the life long friendship of Lee and Hank.

What made this book different is that it was told mostly from a totally male perspective. What they thought, how they viewed life, love and friendship in small town America. Fame meant nothing to them, the lifestyle that Lee lead made him long for normality and to just hand out with his friends. It showed a wonderful view of a small farming community and the ties that bind. It shows the struggle of Hank and his family to keep his head above water and no matter how poor you monetarily you can be rich in other things.

This is a first novel by Mr. Butler and I can’t wait to see what he writes next!

ARC provided by Netgalley

5/5 stars

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