ARC Review: Danny Boy by Barry Walsh

Good Afternoon All,

I hope the first week of the year is treating you well. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on instagram about the back to work pain and I have to admit that I’m feeling it too. I’m struggling with getting my brain back into professional mode because what I want to spend all day doing is reading. One day I will be a professional reader who has no need to work. A girl can dream.

Book πŸ“–

Thank you to @harpercollinsuk for this advanced copy of Danny Boy by Barry Walsh in return for an honest review. Danny Boy was published today (5th January 2023) and you can get a copy here.

Description πŸ”–

Danny Byrne has grown up in the 1960s on a council estate in Pimlico, London. He has lived and breathed the estate, there’s not a lot he doesn’t know about it and everyone on the estate knows who he is. Until now, his life has been a carbon copy of the estate lads before him, but at sixteen, he is at a crossroads in his life.

He is planning on following the education route and continuing school to sit his A Levels. His friends, Dodds, Crockett and Nobby are heading down different paths. Dodds will join his dad’s family butchers business, Crockett will breeze around the estate and take whatever opportunities come his way and Nobby will fall into a less desirable life of drugs and bad people.

As the summer unfolds, the boys are focused on girls, banter and having a good time. Until things start to take a darker turn and Danny is forced to wrestle with his own conscious, discover who he is and decide if he’s ready for love.

General Thoughts πŸ€”

I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect with this book before I started it. However the premise and description caught my attention and it felt like something different to what I’d usually read and therefore something I wanted to give a try. I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to read it because I fell in love with this story and the characters. I savoured every single chapter and looked forward to checking in with Danny and the boys for an hour or so every evening over the last few days.

Characters πŸ‘«πŸ‘­πŸ‘¬

Firstly, I adored Danny; he was the sweetest boy. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t make mistakes as I’m sure all sixteen year olds do. I thought that Danny followed along with the other boys because it was seen as the thing to do, however as the summer progressed, I think that he did more than a few weeks worth of growing up and he learnt a lot about himself. I think that Danny had his mother to thank for his kind heart and emotional maturity and I loved that aspect of the story.

Another character that I really loved was Ernest. He didn’t feature heavily in the story, but he was consistent and I think that he was a fantastic influence on Danny. If you have grown up on or near to a council estate or if you ever went to Girls/Boys Brigade (or something like that), then you have most likely met an Ernest in your life. Even when the boys were rude, ungrateful and downright stupid, Ernest was there with a smile on his face and positive attitude. I loved him.

Writing Style ✍️

The way that this author captured the time, the environment and general feeling of the setting and era was so so good. I had such a clear vision of the estate in my mind; the blocks, the cafe, the pubs; everything. I wasn’t around in the 1960s, but I grew up in a place not too dissimilar and it brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. I also loved the way that he captured the awkwardness of teenage fumbling around, inexperience and bravado. It was so spot on and reminded me of the not so great side of being sixteen.

Conclusion & Scoring πŸ€”

What a great book to start the year off with. This was a fantastic coming of age story that brilliantly captured the time, place and general feeling of a British council estate in the 1960s. I laughed my head off at some of the boys antics and banter and I cried my eyes out at their pain and anguish. This book was beautifully written. A simple, emotive and realistic story that I thoroughly enjoyed and definitely recommend.

😍😍😍😍😐

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