Bernard McLaverty, the author of CAL- also available on video - has again written
a story in which young people seem a live a normal life on the background of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The setting of this story is Belfast in the late 1960s, when the Troubles had just started with the deployment of British troops.
The protagonist of the story is teenager Martin Brennan who has failed his last year at a Catholic school.
His education-minded mother, however, wants him to repeat his exams and is prepared to pay for him
in spite of her meagre means.
By various mechinations to procure the exam papers Martin and his two friends, Kavanagh and the rebellious
Blaise Foley succeed in passing their exams. His friends read medicine and law respectively, while Martin
takes up odd jobs at a university anatomy lab. There he meets his first serious love and experiences
his sexual initiation.
The action switches back and forth between Martin's home, where his mother regularly invites some illustrious
friends for dinner, and Martin Martin's school and the lab resp. The background is filled with incidents connected with the Troubles
between Catholics and Protestants.
The strong parts of the novel are those where McLaverty describes Martin's feelings and desires, the weaker
points are the conversations conducted at the dinner parties given by Martin's mother.