I picked up the book Skippy Dies by Paul Murray on a whim, and when I read the reviews, it actually turned out it was a pretty well received book, so I decided to read it. Skippy dies within the first few pages of the book, but then we move back in time to see the rest of the story. We are greeted with unique and fleshed out characters, both students and teachers, and memorable vignettes about those characters. Skippy is a kid confused over the illness of his mother, and apparent lack of relationship with his father. He gets a crush on a girl who attends the private school next to his, and his roommate thinks he can find an alternate dimension if he tries hard enough. Although I’ve been used to reading fiction geared more towards a younger audience, and this 661 page novel took me a longer time to read, I still think the time spent was worth it, as it revealed the loneliness of adolescence and a general idea that people often isolate themselves to keep from getting hurt. And it did that all with a touch of humor; not too shabby.
And now the rant:
You know how there’s that thing where someone is like, don’t think about an elephant and of course you instinctively think about an elephant? Well I want to try to avoid that, but I’m also torn because I don’t think it matters. In most of the reviews for Skippy Dies, another fictional school and cast of characters was mentioned, and so I went in to the book thinking there would be similarities. I’m here to say that that comparison was unnecessary and frankly ill fitted. Skippy Dies is completely unique and deserves its own personality, not one from another completely different story. Just because an elephant walks on four legs and a cat walks on four legs doesn’t mean you need to compare the two when describing them. So just because Skippy Dies takes place at a boarding school with well developed characters, doesn’t mean you need to compare Skippy’s school to another fictional school. There’s just too much going on that’s different to warrant such an action. Just so we’re all clear, Skippy Dies has reviews that liken it’s school to this one, but I’m here to say please don’t go in thinking you’ll get the same thing. It just won’t happen.