Oh man, oh man, oh man.
If you know me, you know that I love books that make me cry. The messier the cry, the better. But I have a couple requirements for those books.
1) It must be honest.
2) No emotional manipulation.
3) It must have a point OTHER than being a tear-jerker.
I think that pretty much sums it up.
I've read books, like Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby that might edge up on the emotional manipulation bit, but still get a huge recommendation from me because it's sort of appropriate to the book. There, the aim is to get people's attention, to educate, to send a message that the horrible things depicted in that book are happening EVERY DAY, and so bringing the pain is OK if it does that.
This book though. Oh man. It's got all the requirement bases loaded and hit the effing awesomeball out of the park. I don't usually resort to sports analogies, but it's apt here, so I'm leaving it.
I'm not going to talk about the specifics here, because I think that this is best experienced for oneself. I will say that this story touched me on many different levels, and was so... visceral. Intimate and real. The characters were very real and sympathetic and interesting as well, and the parallels between them and the story-within-a-story (which I don't usually like) were cool too. Like little nudges in the ribs regarding Conor's point of view.
There's a bit of horror, a bit of the fantastic, but it's interpretable, and was brilliantly handled. As was everything else in the book.
After listening to the audiobook (which was easily among one of the absolute best readings I've ever heard. THANK YOU, Jason Isaacs!), there was a short interview between Isaacs and Ness regarding the book. There wasn't much said about the story, but a little bit said about the reactions to it and the intentions Ness had in telling it, and I found myself nodding. Wiping tears and nodding and thinking, "Nailed it." This was based on a story idea that Siobhan Dowd began before her death. I've never read any Siobhan Dowd, but now I think I have to. Just to see.
Read this book. Just... read it. It's one of THOSE.