Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
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 close friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbeard. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.
Go ahead, put this book on the shelf with Castle of Water, Exit West, and Fates and Furies because it is definitely one of my favorite reads of this year. This book begins as truly wonderful historical fiction – we are introduced to Cyril’s journey while he is still in the womb, on the day his mother is humiliated in church and thrown from her hometown. This horrific display of piety never slows her down, not even for one moment. Catherine Goggin is a badass woman with a plan – she can take care of herself. All of the women in this novel are role model material.
Cyril, on the other hand, doesn’t quite know who he is or what is worth fighting for. As this book slides forward in time, Boyne elucidates the true pain associated with being a gay man in Ireland in the 1960s. It’s dangerous and depressing. Despite how much Cyril wishes he could control these urges and keep them a secret from those around him, he is simply unable to do so. The more he hides his true nature, the closer he is able to get to others who care for him and love him. That’s all he’s ever wanted, and I understood why he was determined to do so. But I just knew something had to break.
As this novel moves closer to the future, Boyne illuminates just how recently this hatred was a part of our world’s everyday rhetoric (and how it is not as far gone as we might like to think). The characters freely speak of Ireland as this “backwater town” but when they get to New York City, things aren’t as different as they had wished. In our current lives, where hatred pervades our country and our world, this is an important story about people persecuted for being who they are.
Almost immediately after finishing this novel, I wanted to pick it back up and start it over again. I’ll be doing the next best thing, which is lending it to my best friend, but you can be assured I’ll be rereading this novel throughout my life. There is definitely more to be gleaned from this moving tale.
Read this if you liked: A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at your local bookstore! The Heart’s Invisible Furies was written by John Boyne and published in 2017 by Hogarth Books/Crown Publishing.