Boys Don’t Cry: Hard choices growing up in a gritty Dublin
Fiona Scarlett’s novel of two young brothers trying to get by is moving but never mawkish
Finn and Joe O’Reilly are brothers growing up in Bojaxhiu or “The Jax”, one of four towers in central Dublin “named after someone who inspired change, hoping that the names would rub off on the dossing sponging bastards who existed there”.
The brothers aren’t dossing or sponging: Finn (12) likes school, especially reading and playing football; and Joe (17), a budding artist, has a scholarship at a private school. Their mother, Annie, pulls pints in the local pub; their father, Frank, is a fixer and hard man for the estate’s drug dealer. Frank is violent to his family as well as his boss’s enemies, but – in the confusing way of abusive parents – he also cares about them, wants Finn to do well at school and Joe to find a better future. The boys love him even as they hate what he does to their mother.