My Rating: 5/5 – There are very few characters that you really become attached to and feel like you’ve witnessed grow up in front of your very eyes. Those characters stick with you like childhood friends; you think of them from time to time, things that happen in your everyday life remind you of them and make you smile to yourself. For me those characters are Anne (Anne with an E!), the Sweet Valley twins (maybe not brag-worthy, but I don’t gotta lie to kick it!) Laura from Little House on the Prairie, the sisters from Little Women and of course Harry, Ron and Hermione – and now Cyril Avery falls in those ranks. This book was charming and heart breaking and timely and classic and endearing and everything you need from a book all rolled up in one. I won’t forget this book any time soon, and for that it deserves my highest rating.
Title: The Heart’s Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Synopsis, via johnboyne.com: Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.
My Review: **this will contain some spoilers from here on, nothing book ruining, but consider yourself warned**
I usually love a good mystery: a good murder, a good serial killer actually, but we all know those are a dime a dozen (in bookland, obvi) and they aren’t always the stories that stick with you. This one was different for me, and in so many good ways.
Cyril doesn’t know himself when you meet him, he is so very young, so you get to discover who he is right along with him which is part of the charm of this book. Cyril is born to an unwed mother in Ireland in the 40’s and given up for adoption to a well-to-do couple who couldn’t be less interested in him – and that’s just how his story starts! We meet Cyril when he is very young and get to experience almost everything with him including discovering who he is, where he came from, what his sexuality is, his religion, his passion, etc… and we get to follow him through his entire life.
You won’t feel any sense of wearing rose colored glasses while reading this book; the world is cruel to Cyril and overall the book opened my eyes to the persecution of people with homosexual tendencies in Ireland and in the world in general. This is not a feel good book, per se, but I do think you will find yourself finishing with a little more perspective than you started with.
Cyril is honest and charming. Cyril is self deprecating and witty and observant and a hero and the villain. You will laugh and you will cry with Cyril. You will cheer for him, and you will scold him. And that is the beauty of this book; he becomes family.
Side comment: I discovered this book via Book of the Month Club. If you aren’t a member yet, you should really check them out. I picked this up on a whim from my ever growing stacks after choosing it thanks to Judge Liberty Hardy’s RAVE review. Liberty is my girl (she doesn’t know that) and I trust her taste completely, a rave review from her was all I needed to know. I’m so glad to see that since then it has won Book of the Month’s Book of the Year award – well deserved. I can say this now (1/1/18): This was definitely my favorite book of 2017.