Gerald M. O’Connor
Down & Out Books (2017)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/17)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Origins of Benjamin Hackett’ by Gerald M. O’Connor on Blogcritics.
“The Origins of Benjamin Hackett,” by Gerald M. O’Connor is a hilarious coming of age tale that takes place in Cork, Ireland, and is quite unlike any coming of age story I’ve ever read.
When Benjamin Hackett turned eighteen years old, his parents rather unceremoniously blurt out that he is adopted. Such begins Benjamin’s search for his real parents, if for no other reason than to punch them in the noses! The journey starts with a visit to Father Brogan, who directs Benjamin to the Barnamire Convent for answers. Benjamin enlists the aid of his best friend, JJ – one, because he has a car, and two, because he’s just an all-around good guy who can’t turn down a friend in need.
The duo soon find themselves up to their necks in trouble, averting one disaster after another in their quest for the truth. From the dealings of a dangerous gangster with no sense of humor, to the trials of a cranky Mother Superior, the guys have to overcome numerous, and sometimes near fatal, obstacles in their path. At the end of the hunt, what will Benjamin make of all that’s transpired?
What an engaging, entertaining read! The words flow effortlessly across the pages, yet with dynamic presence. Not one single word is unnecessary or excessive – each one adds to the brilliance of the story. I love sharp, witty writing, and this story is full of crafty dialogue between the characters. The banter is so off-the-charts funny, I often found myself laughing aloud, and getting the strangest looks from my husband, to which I replied, “you just need to read it to appreciate it.” Honestly, I struggled with wanting to stop and memorize some of the humorous phrases for later use, and staying in the story – of course, I stayed glued to the pages – I just couldn’t help myself! Besides, some of this stuff you just can’t pull off with an American accent!
While the writing is brilliant, the characters are the shining stars, elevating this already phenomenal story to even greater heights. So relatable and genuine, it was easy to feel connected with all of the characters, from the ill-fated protagonists, to the bit-part characters. Don’t assume to know how this story will play out – the twists and turns will keep readers continually guessing as to how Benjamin will fare in the end. I love that the story includes a bit of everything – drama, love, loss, suspense, and competition, all while enveloping readers deep into the settings along the coast and the countryside of Ireland.
It’s hard to believe “The Origins of Benjamin Hackett” is Gerald O’Connor’s first novel. With the exceptional writing, the well-developed characters, and fantastic storyline, it seems this author has a natural gift, and I look forward to reading more of his work. Well done!