2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Jonny the Boy from the Road by J. N. Stephenson tells the story of Jonny, a teenage boy growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Jonny’s story starts in 1991 when he is fourteen and continues through his early adulthood. In the beginning, much of his focus is on his dream of one day playing professional football (or soccer, as it is called in the United States), preferably for Manchester United. He also has to deal with an alcoholic father and help his mother with the family’s current financial situation, but overall, Jonny’s life is pretty good. One day, his life is forever changed when he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he is pulled into his country’s political conflict.
One problem I had with this book was that things didn’t fit together right for me. For example, his dad is portrayed as this mean drunk for most of the book. Yet, when Jonny gets hurts, his dad is suddenly super compassionate for several chapters. There’s no explanation for these actions. The author doesn’t tell us that the dad stopped drinking for a while or that once a while this compassionate man comes out. Instead, I just felt like the father’s actions were completely out of character based on what we knew about him up to this point.
For me, there were also several issues when it came to football in the book. One of the biggest things that doesn’t fit is that Jonny spends most of his time on the bench for his school team. When he finally does get to play for a short time at the end of one game, he’s this elite player who gets recruited to play on a prestigious team in the area. First, I feel like if he was that great of a player, he would be starting on his school team. Second, I didn’t feel like the coach who recruited him had seen Jonny play enough to know that Jonny would be a good fit for the team.
As a warning to potential readers, this book has a lot of profanity. If I had known that, I would have passed on reading it. For me, the level of profanity distracted highly from the book. There is also one sex scene, which I felt was entirely unnecessary and way too detailed. Surprisingly, considering the subject matter, the book was not as violent as I expected, although the opening scene and a few scenes toward the end of the novel do get a bit graphic.
By reading this book, I had hoped to learn more about The Troubles, a politically driven conflict that took place in Northern Island for much of the second half of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I got a better understanding of the conflict, although I did learn that it was a multi-sided conflict and not just two groups battling for power. This book will probably be most appealing to history buffs or others who are familiar with The Troubles. They will probably better understand what’s happen and enjoy the fictionalized account of someone who lived through it.
If you are not familiar with the conflict, you might find yourself a bit bogged down by the acronyms for the different feuding groups. I was often looking up the acronyms to try to find out more about each group. For me, it would have been nice if the book contained a glossary with a short explanation about each group’s part in the conflict.
I am rating this book 2 out of 4 stars. The premise of the story is interesting, so it’s definitely not a 1-star book. Unfortunately, there are far too many grammatical errors, including missing commas, words that should be capitalized, and missing words, to give this book a higher rating. I also felt that while the premise of the story was interesting, there was too much focus on the subplots and not even focus on the main story to give this book a higher rating.
Jonny the boy from the road
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like shidawn's review? Post a comment saying so!