On the Bookshelf...


HM Ryan

For one young teen growing up in Scotland, there are only three things that really matter in life - movies, Celtic Football Club, and a genuine connection. However, two out of three is simply not enough. After Bobby's mum loses her battle with cancer, the teen faces a life of loneliness. Abandoned long ago by his alcoholic father, he finds himself under the watchful eye of his stern yet loving aunt, Deirdre. And school life isn't much better with a group of so-called friends who act more like opponents. For the lonely teen, there is one possible refuge - an online footballing forum for fans of Celtic FC where he yearns to be one the lads. But despite his best banter, his attempts at camaraderie fall short. As Bobby quickly realizes, like the best footballers, he needs a striking partner - an alternate persona to play off and help him become one of the "bhoys." And so, "Jinky" is born - an embodiment of the father figure Bobby never had. As his virtual popularity rises, Bobby is oblivious to the one thing that can derail his newfound chance for friendship and acceptance: the return of his biological father. Could his wayward parent's desire for a relationship bring about the downfall of Jinky? Or will this white lie be the catalyst that brings the estranged father and son closer together?

Jinky by HM Ryan is an intriguing book. A story that according to the notes at the beginning is based on real events that happened on a Celtic forum. It's also a powerful story about friendship and wanting to be loved.

Bobby is a bit of a loner. The only friends he has don't really appreciate him, to the point of actually beating him up. He loves football, which his late mother introduced him to. He tries to interact on the various forums, but that doesn't work well for him. People ignore him or don't understand him. Then he decides what he needs is a strike partner, someone who helps him integrate into the forum. In a minute Jinty is born.

Jinty is the nickname of Scottish legend Jimmy Johnstone, hero of the Lisbon Lions triumph. It's the ideal nickname for a Celtic fan and quickly it helps Bobby become part of the online community. His problems are only just starting though when his father appears on the scene.

I really liked this story. The language at times is colourful, yet appropriate for the story. It's short and will keep many a teen interested through its subject matter. It has a lovely synergy to it, a story of hope and acceptance in this modern world.

Thanks to NetGallery and Cosmorana for the eARC copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Review by
AJ Steel
September 6, 2023

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