Nikki Sheehan works her magic with this hauntingly beautiful new story about a boy’s relationship with his dog and the complications that come with family.
Below is a spoiler-free review of the book Goodnight, Boy which releases tomorrow (August 8th, 2017) in the United States.
Goodnight, Boy is about J.C. and his dog, Boy, being locked in the dog kennel by J.C.’s adoptive father while his adoptive mother, Melanie, is away for an extended period of time. The novel is told through J.C.’s dialogue with Boy, J.C. revealing bits of his past as well as narrating into the present with his interactions with both Melanie and his adoptive father.
The story is heartbreaking and heart-mending. The main character, J.C., is so alive and realistic. The portrayals of J.C.’s struggles and the past are not written to be dramatic for the sake of drama, but rather, they reflect some real issues in not only Haiti but in other regions of the world as well. Sheehan expertly weaves J.C.’s past and present together with her use of second person and a form that resembles both poetry and conversation.
In addition, the other characters featured are executed splendidly.
A major theme throughout the book is adoption, as one plot is the story leading up to J.C.’s adoption into Melanie and her husband’s home. The truth of the matter is that adoption is not an easy topic to write. This book handles it beautifully. That’s not to say that the family, or even part of the family, is perfect. (Perfection is far from what this family is.) It is hard to say exactly what makes the plot of adoption so poignant in a spoiler-free review, but reading the book and seeing the dynamics between the characters is a good way to see what is meant.
Along with adoption, the book contains major themes of family and what makes up a family, as flawed as any family is. Further, morality is explored. No character’s actions are all bad or all good, as will be touched on in a future post.
Besides those, there are themes of friendship and love and loss– although I do warn that there are also themes of abuse, so be wary of reading if you’re triggered by such.
Even still, the book is heartwarming and unique and I would definitely give it a 5/5.
Keep a look out for Fictionist Magazine’s interview with Goodnight, Boy author, Nikki Sheehan, coming soon. Find Nikki Sheehan online through her website here.