Dubray Books review:
The Thing About December covers the course of a year in Johnsey's life as he tries to deal with the grief of losing his father while observing his mother's own grief overcome her. Throughout the year, while people around Johnsey bully, dismiss or, worse, pity him, he retreats further into his own head and the safety of what he knows: his farm. Johnsey's uncanny ability to understand what people truly want and mean, combined with his inability to reconcile this with what to do, result in his alienation even from those who may help him. As Celtic Tiger greed, lies and betrayal gather at Johnsey's door, we can only watch the undoing of an innocent, caring young man. Ryan writes with an acute understanding of small village life, and the politics that rule it. With lyrical, evocative and often beautifully simple prose, this novel will envelop you in the beauty of the familiar, while tearing you apart with the heartbreak of reality.
Ann-Marie Dolan, Dubray Books Grafton St
'He heard Daddy one time saying he was a grand quiet boy to Mother when he thought Johnsey couldn't hear them talking. Mother must have been giving out about him being a gom and Daddy was defending him. He heard the fondness in Daddy's voice. But you'd have fondness for an auld eejit of a crossbred pup that should have been drowned at birth.' While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns. Set over the course of one year of Johnsey's life, The Thing About December breathes with his grief, bewilderment, humour and agonizing self-doubt. This is a heart-twisting tale of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he is. Donal Ryan's award-winning debut, The Spinning Heart, garnered unprecedented acclaim, and The Thing About December confirms his status as one of the best writers of his generation.