A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

Cover-A-History-of-LonelinessPlease note, this review may contain spoilers

From the man that wrote the haunting novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, comes another haunting novel called A History of Loneliness. While The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was a young adult novel, this one is an adult fiction novel that also deals with difficult issues. While the former deals with WWII and the Holocaust, the latter is about sexual abuse of children, covered up by the Catholic church.

The story plays off in Ireland and is being told from the perspective of Father Odran Yates and spans over his life time, from the 1960s to current. After Odran tragically lost his father and young brother, his mother turns to religion and the church and convinces him that being a priest is his vocation.

Despite his mother’s insistence on him becoming a priest, Odran is convinced that it is his calling. He is one of the few honest priests whose careers are being destroyed by that of their colleagues, when the sexual abuse at the hands of the church comes to light. One of Odran’s friends are being accused and stands trial and the church are blamed for covering it up. The days of the church’s actions going unquestioned are over and people no longer has faith in the church or the priests and Odran finds himself an object of insults and even physical abuse. Does this mean he is guilty by association? Even though Odran never questioned his friend being moved from one parish to the other and so soon, could he really have been that naïve not to know?

When tragedy in his own family comes to light, Odran is forced to question everything he thought he knew. The History of Loneliness is a haunting, yet powerful read. It deals with social issues, that might not be easy to read about, but in no way does the novel become too depressing, despite the subject matter. There is humor in the novel too. It is wonderfully told, the writing is good and overall I find it to be a thought provoking and poignant tale. Only my second book read for 2015, but already in my favourites list (or top reads for 2015!). High praise that is well deserved, because I thought about his novel long after I finished it!

Image source

Disclaimer: I received this book from Loot, for review consideration