Laureate na nOg Siobhan Parkinson’s new book, Bruised, has just received an excellent review by Robert Dunbar in the Irish Times (14th May 2011). This is what he says:
“THE FACT that childhood is not necessarily an unbroken idyll for everyone is demonstrated yet again in Siobhán Parkinson’s Bruised (Hodder, £5.99), where at one point its 14-year-old hero, Jono, reflects, “Life is much better as you get older. The younger you are, the harder it is.”
Given an alcoholic mother, a father who has absconded with a new partner, a grandmother who has recently died and a younger sister, Julie, who needs his protection, such a viewpoint is hardly surprising. But the principal focus of the novel is on the boy’s handling of these circumstances, expressed in a first-person narrative that, from its opening line, seizes the reader’s attention in all its immediacy and richness of perky idiom. The complexities and ambiguities of family relationships are skilfully explored, the inadequacies of societal responses to the Jonos of this world tellingly exposed.
There are, of course, many ways in which a boy in Jono’s situation may end up “bruised” and, equally, many ways in which the effects of the bruising linger. In tracking these, Parkinson’s perspective is sympathetic without being sentimental. The underlying seriousness of the book’s central theme is cleverly balanced by its moments of wry wit and irony. And, making their presence felt at some well-judged moments, there are various passing allusions to The Merchant of Venice, with a pointed reminder of the significance of Portia’s words about the quality of mercy.
This is an extremely impressive novel, easily one of the best so far by Parkinson, who is Ireland’s first Laureate na nÓg.”