Fíona Scarlett’s debut novel, Boys Don’t Cry, has aptly been subtitled with a reference, an advertisement or a call to action by Marian Keyes: ‘I Can’t Remember Ever Reading Something So Moving.’ Marian Keyes. Well, dramatically, let me tell you that in India, there maybe 99.99% of readers who may neither have heard of Keyes nor Fíona Scarlett. This is because both these authors pretend to be literary, camouflage their art with so much art and tend to make their works cryptic so that they could woo a certain section of readers who rather sit in the jury boxes for prizes and grants… readers, on the other hand, want to read something that might make instant sense and give them something to connect to. Fíona Scarlett’s debut novel, Boys Don’t Cry, has certainly missed that part.
Chapters in the novel are in binary – Joe and Finn. Their perspectives. Their opinions. Their lives. The novel through their eyes. Fíona Scarlett is an expert in child psychology and it reflects on the novel as well. Readers who have a literary taste and can bear the unfolding for a while without being frustrated or too eager to know will see her expertise come out in full-flashes as the novel gets to the deeper layers of the subconscious. Irish ones get it. From their ancestors. Joyce might be seen on the pages or at least in the emotions that reflect on the pages.
Ordinary readers will see many things. However, they will have ‘hard times’ in understanding what might have happened in the past. They will also have a tough time decoding what’s happening in the present as the novel leaves very few clues for those who read Harry Potter, Two States or even Tom Clancy’s works and more in the same order. The novel is cryptic. The novel is layered. The novel is deep. THE NOVEL IS CLUMSY as well.
One has to give it to the narrative of the novel. Fíona Scarlett has done very well in her very debut work. She has penetrated the elite readers’ psyche because they like challenges. To make it more comprehensive, or say simplified, you must have come across people who praise the movie Shutter Island. You get influenced by them. Watch the movie. And you find yourself bewildered – what happened actually? And that missing part is what the elite praise – appreciate what you cannot comprehend! Fíona Scarlett’s Boys Don’t Cry puts you in the same spot and that is why, perhaps, Marian Keyes might have found herself compelled to praise and good-word the debut attempt of a new author!
To the relief of the readers, the novel is not very long. It is about 200 pages and this might be tackled well. However, whether you should read it or not is up to you. I can help you with a very simple ask-yourself. Do you like reading slow, unconvincing, sans action and grit novels? Then you are up for it. However, if you like to see action on the pages or, at least, some movement of characters and the bare link to understand what’s going on, you might find for yourself a better piece to enjoy your Sundays… you are a contemporary reader with less time and ‘great expectations. All the best to both of you, readers!
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Review by Ashish for Indian Book Critics
Boys Don't Cry: 'I Can't Remember Ever Reading Something So Moving.' Marian Keyes by Fíona Scarlett – Review
- IBC Critical Rating
Boys Don’t Cry: ‘I Can’t Remember Ever Reading Something So Moving.’ Marian Keyes by Fíona Scarlett is a novel that would make the readers sentimental, emotional… and, possibly, confused.