Review: The Thing About December

the-thing-about-december“While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Following the deaths first of his father and then his mother, Johnsey inherits the family farm, and a healthy bank account, both of which he proves incapable of managing on his own. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns. Though companionship, and the promise of love, enter his life as a result of a hospital stay following a brutal beating, Johnsey remains a lonely man struggling to keep up with a world that moves faster than he does.
Set over the course of one year of Johnsey Cunliffe’s life, The Thing About December breathes with Johnsey’s bewilderment, humor and agonizing self-doubt. Readers will fall in love with Johnsey in a bittersweet tale that serves as a poignant reminder that we are surrounded in life by simple souls who are nonetheless more insightful and wise than we realize, or can even imagine.” – Publisher Summary

I was introduced to Donal Ryan and his particular brand of genius earlier this year when I read his debut novel, The Spinning Heart. Imagine my enthusiasm, then, when I received a copy of his newest work: The Thing About December, published in the U.S. on August 12, 2014. This book (at 208 pages, it is hard-pressed to call it a novel) is the tender and heartbreaking tale of a young man alone and confused in the world today.

The book summary above tells you the whole story, so I won’t repeatedly summarize things for you here. What it does not convey is the beauty of Ryan’s writing – the way he captures Johnsey Cunliffe’s life and lays it open for all to see. It is a heart-wrenching ride indeed to follow Johnsey’s journey from depression and loneliness, to having companionship and hope for the future, to the bitter, bitter end.

Interestingly enough, although this is Donal Ryan’s second book to be released, word is he actually wrote it before The Spinning Heart, which was released in 2012. Both novels are works of true art, in my opinion, and you would be at a loss if you were to pass either of them up.

The Thing About December by Donal Ryan. Buy it, read it, love it.

4 of 5 stars

Source: Steerforth Press {via NetGalley}



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