The Heart’s Invisible Furies was my August selection from Book of the Month, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. That’s usually how my literary adventures start out…I read the briefest description I can possibly find, check the Goodreads rating (it’s currently a 4.49), and decide whether I want to read the book. I guess I just like to be taken wherever the author thinks I should go (except when I’m reading a book that has a dog as a character…then I Google spoilers until I find out if the dog dies…if it does, I nope-nope-nope and find a new book. The world’s sad enough without throwing in the death of a good boy).
Side note: here’s a picture of my good boy, Ramsey, when he was a pup.
Sometimes you just need an adorable puppy picture to get you through the day.
For me…every day is that day. How photogenic is he?!
Okay, but enough about me, let’s talk about THIF (following Taylor’s lead with no spoilers!)!
The book follows Cyril Avery. He was born to a teenage mother in rural Ireland out of wedlock (gasp!) and then adopted by a wealthy family, Charles and Maude. While he *technically* has everything a boy needs (a roof over his head, access to great education, never goes hungry) he lives in a house that isn’t exactly his “home”. His adoptive parents taught him from a young age that “he’s not a real Avery, you see” and treat him as an inconvenience. One fateful day, he meets Julian, the boy that becomes his best friend and makes him realize that he’s attracted to boys, not girls (a discovery that leads to quite the scene when he actually admits it in the confessional…let’s just say it didn’t go so well). In postwar Ireland, being gay is actually used as a justification for murdering you, so (for obvious reasons) he was terrified to let anyone know. So he kept it hidden. As the story progresses, Cyril continues to struggle with finding his own identity and a way to reconcile the person that he knows himself to be in a world that refuses to accept him.
Okay, before I actually launch into the content I just want to say: this book isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes pure stamina, dedication, training…maybe even snacks and hydration breaks. It’s like a marathon for reading because this book is literally 580 pages (side note: I tend to misuse the word “literally”, but in this case it is literally correct). It can be a bit daunting at times when you feel as though you’ve been reading for hours and you’ve not even put a dent in the book. Also, it’s full of heavy topics (like, I don’t know… a teenage girl being publicly shamed by her minister and cast out by her community for getting pregnant.. or maybe two boys being murdered by the boy’s father for being gay.. or people dying in New York during the AIDS epidemic…)
Having said that…
This book gave me all the feels. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I cheered…it was so beautifully written in the way that it combines the humor and the tragedy. I just mentioned several things that were included, but somehow Boyne was able to tackle these heavy topics that would be depressing enough individually and weave them together in a way that was beautiful but tragic, heartbreaking but somehow still comedic.
And the characters! Oh, the characters! They were so well developed and incredibly complex. The protagonist Cyril was a quirky, intelligent individual that showed wisdom beyond his years but still showed how difficult growing up can be if you have something that makes you different. He made some questionable choices at times (I personally want to have a stern talking-to with him about personal safety), but who doesn’t? Even with his periodic lapses of judgement, you can’t help but root for him and hope that he finds the love and acceptance that he so desperately needed. Even the characters that I spent most of the time hating (looking at you, Maude) had such a well thought out backstory that made you not completely despise them and *gasp* even feel sympathy toward them. (Well, except for Mary Margaret Muffet –yes, that’s really her name…she was the worst person of all time. In my best T. Swift voice, “No, I don’t like you.“) .
“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.”
This book has left me speechless, at a loss for words, because no matter what I say, it will be grossly inadequate to how amazing this book truly is. I feel like I need to give a standing ovation, to hire a marching band to play in honor of this book. I may or may not be doing one of these two…use your imagination as to which one I chose. Anyways, in case you didn’t gather, I’m giving this 5 stars.
Have you read this? Let me know what you thought! Until next time, I’ll be snuggling my pup and reading until I can’t keep my eyes open!