At the start of the book, I was reminiscent of Neil Simon’s "Brighton Beach Memoirs". I thought it would be a lighthearted coming of age story of a young boy – Jim would be similar to Eugene and I’d just swap a Brooklyn backdrop with Ireland. Weeeeeeeellllll, mayhaps I should begin reading book jackets a bit more carefully because "The Fields" soon took a drastic turn when the subject matter got heavy and I realized that Jim’s local parish priest was a devout member of the Loyal Order of the Kid Bangers.
To briefly sum it up, Jim indeed grows up in these 390 pages, but with some of the most wretched experiences imaginable. He goes from an inexperienced 13-year old whose favorite hobby is bicycling around town with his ultra-nerdy pal Gary to getting "Sanduskied" by the priest, experimenting with drinking and sex, becoming a dropout, and everything eventually culminates in a school of new-age healing.
The worst part is, I still laughed (not at the kid boffing bit – I’m not a complete animal), but poor Jim is so absolutely daft that, miserable as the subject matter may be, I chuckled. And yes, I have prepared my handbasket in which I shall go straight to Hell.