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How to Build a Boat
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
17 posts | 16 read | 12 to read
A funny and deeply moving novel about a boy, his dream, and the people who lend him a hand, by the acclaimed author of As You Were Jamie O'Neill loves the colour red. He also loves tall trees, patterns, rain that comes with wind, the curvature of many objects, books with dust jackets, cats, rivers and Edgar Allan Poe. At age thirteen, there are two things he especially wants in life: to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother, Noelle, who died when he was born. In his mind these things are intimately linked. And at his new school, where all else is disorientating and overwhelming, he finds two people who might just be able to help him. How to Build a Boat is the story of how one boy and his mission transforms the lives of his teachers, Tess and Tadhg, and brings together a community. Written with tenderness and verve, it's about love, family and connection, the power of imagination, and how our greatest adventures never happen alone.
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BookNAround
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Normally Ozzie won‘t model books for me but he‘s sleepy so I made it happen. 😂

Ruthiella 😻😻😻 1mo
dabbe 🖤🐾🖤 1mo
AnnCrystal 😘💕😻💝. 1mo
58 likes3 comments
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Graywacke
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

My 10th from the Booker longlist was wonderful! I came in with no expectations and was rewarded with an inspiring story. A novel about an autistic boy who misses the mother he never knew, working out a device for perpetual motion; and a school teacher in a bad marriage exhausted by her dysfunctional all-boys school, yet fully committed to it. A novel of the children of missing parents, some grown, stumbling through life. Recommended! #booker2023

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MicheleinPhilly
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

This was a very tender story of family and community that didn‘t veer too far into the overly mawkish and sentimental as I feared it would. Feeney‘s background as a poet is very apparent in certain bits as some of the language was really breathtaking. Funnily enough, my least favorite bits were the ones in which they actually built the boat. 😂

TrishB I‘m not overly keen on boats in books! 6mo
squirrelbrain I agree - I found the boat bits a little boring, but otherwise really liked it. 6mo
MicheleinPhilly @TrishB Other than the boat bits, I did like it a lot. 6mo
TrishB @MicheleinPhilly @squirrelbrain I just went to look on kindle to see how much it is…..yes, I brought it on 24 August. Well then. 6mo
MicheleinPhilly @TrishB 🤣🤣🤣 That‘s probably when I bought it. #99pQueens 👑 6mo
56 likes1 stack add5 comments
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nanuska_153
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Mehso-so

I could review this book in just one word: "meh". It's easy to read, neither love it nor hate it, things happen but characters lack depth so you don't care. Ironically the most boring parts are the ones where they explain how to build a boat. Not sure if the author knows how to do it, but she definitely doesn't know how to explain the procedure. In a week I probably won't remember I read it

keithmalek I don't think "meh" is a word. ? 6mo
nanuska_153 @keithmalek it is, according to the Oxford dictionary is both an interjection and an adjective. Its definition as adjective is "Mediocre; unexceptional, uninspiring; (also) unenthusiastic." 6mo
keithmalek Oh...I stand corrected.😅 6mo
nanuska_153 @keithmalek in fairness it was only introduced in 2007, which although is already 16 year ago, since it's after the year 2000 in my mind counts as yesterday 6mo
keithmalek Mine too. 6mo
33 likes5 comments
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TheKidUpstairs
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

Oh, I just loved this book.

It is by no means perfect, I wish some of the characters had been fleshed out more. But it is a beautiful, quiet book. At its heart, a book about empathy and community, and one which made me feel deeply.

Cont'd thoughts in comments.

#BookerLonglist @BarbaraBB @squirrelbrain @BookwormM

TheKidUpstairs My favourite books of the #BookerLonglist have been the ones that have an emotional impact on me. And unfortunately, three of the six Shortlisted titles were lacking in that area. I think that's why I'm so disappointed in the Shortlist. 8mo
BarbaraBB So happy that you loved this one and that it had such an impact on you. It is always so special when that happens! (edited) 8mo
squirrelbrain I agree with you on both counts…this one being fab, and the shortlist being mainly rubbish. 8mo
BookwormM Agree with you all I really liked this as well not as much as Bird Hearts 8mo
TheKidUpstairs @BookwormM I'm really looking forward to reading Bird Hearts. It's not available here yet, but I'm top of the hold list at my library for when it is! 8mo
67 likes5 comments
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BarbaraBB
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

#Booker23 10/13

Jamie is a vulnerable neurodiverse boy starting secondary school. He holds on to his own thruths in this new, sometimes scary and cruel environment. But he does meet nice people too and together they build a boat.
I liked Jamie and his perspective. I also liked the other characters but they didn‘t really come into their own. I would have liked to learn more about them. Nevertheless an original, less bleak Booker candidate!

Cinfhen Just saw a Booktube video about this book. The guy LOVED this book - hope it makes the shortlist but it seems unlikely. Also beautiful flowers 💐 8mo
squirrelbrain I agree on both counts @Cinfhen - I hope it makes the shortlist but don‘t think it will. Oh, and the flowers are lovely too Barbara! 😃 8mo
82 likes1 stack add2 comments
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andrew61
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

2nd booker longlist bk is about an Irish boy Jamie who is starting senior school. He is a great character whose autism is his strength but in the bear pit of teenagers his vulnerability. 2 other characters then take the stage, Tess the English teacher trapped by her past + a last ivf attempt, and Tadhg the new woodwork teacher just over from the islands. The making of a curraich focuses their lives. Enjoyed this a lot, well told, sad + hopeful

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JenP
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Mehso-so

Book #7 for our Booker longlist panel and we were very split on this one.

I enjoyed reading something that wasn‘t so bleak but it felt pretty mediocre for me. One dimensional characters way too many plot threads that simply disappeared into nothing and a romance thread that I eye-rolled my way through. You can read all our reviews here:

https://thereadersroom.org/2023/09/06/2023-booker-longlist-how-to-build-a-boat-b...

BarbaraBB I am very curious about this one. I‘ll read it soon. 8mo
30 likes1 comment
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squirrelbrain
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

Jamie is neurodiverse and his Dad worries about him starting secondary school. For good reason, as it turns out, as the school has little understanding of Jamie‘s needs.

Two teachers come to his rescue (or do they rescue each other?) and a boat is built, although not the one that Jamie had in mind.

This was warm and (thinking of #camplitsy discussions yesterday!) empathetic without being cloying or mawkish. I *think* it should make my top 6.

BarbaraBB Happy to know this was a pick for you too. Looking forward to it! 9mo
BookwormM I enjoyed this one although it really reminders me of Bewilderment so it lost points for originality 9mo
ClairesReads Totally agree with this review- I really liked this one 9mo
72 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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ClairesReads
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

I felt this was a novel that was generous but honest about whole cast of flawed characters, in a way that captured my empathy with making this a sob story or one where the characters could completely escape a reader‘s critique. It‘s honest about a whole raft of challenges and road blocks that are very real in so many people‘s lives, and is neither melodramatic, nor avoidant of the way these challenges impact our relationships and connections.

Centique Im looking forward to this one - it sounds good 9mo
38 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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charl08
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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Pickpick

Third Booker list book for me. Centred on Jamie, an autistic boy starting a new secondary school. Trying to make sense of his experiences, he finds some friends (and the boat of the title) but also endures bullying and inflexible school environment.

For me, one of those books that time just slipped by as I read. 😍
@squirrelbrain @TheKidUpstairs, @BookwormM, @vlwelser, @JamieArc, @BarbaraBB, @sarahbarnes #Booker23

charl08 (Not the right kind of boat!) 9mo
BarbaraBB That ‘s a good sign! 9mo
squirrelbrain I‘m enjoying this one so far…. 9mo
See All 11 Comments
sarahbarnes I‘m very curious about this one! 9mo
charl08 @BarbaraBB yup, I'd read more by this author. 9mo
charl08 @squirrelbrain ooh, I thought you'd read then all already. 9mo
charl08 @sarahbarnes hope you get to try it soon. 9mo
squirrelbrain Noooo, not yet. I‘ve read 8, currently reading numbers 9 and 10. 9mo
BookwormM I really enjoyed this one 9mo
charl08 @squirrelbrain that's pretty close to complete 👏👏👏 9mo
charl08 @BookwormM yes: I enjoyed Jamie's take on the world. 9mo
62 likes11 comments
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charl08
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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And he told me that I would be taken up to heaven anyway. I told him that I would rather not be, and he said, ah, well, it is not a choice you have, young man....

And when I asked about free will, he groaned, dipped his head and made no sound whatsoever. He did not even smile. And then asked, what will I do with you?

I suggested I go to Mr Foley's workshop to continue on the boat, and he shouted and said, it is not a question.

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charl08
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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This has "gotten" out of hand...

A previous reader's frustrated editing/ commentary (in a library book!) ?

ShyBookOwl LOL 9mo
49 likes1 comment
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Onioons
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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...but here's the thing, kiddo, there's no full picture, the picture is always filling, filling, let it, don't try to order it or organise it, listen to it, watch it fill.

Beautiful story of individual struggle and the communities that build us back up. A neurodivergent teen mourning his mother, an English teacher longing for a child & a carpentry teacher relocating to a new place. Feeney brings her poetry to their story and it is just gorgeous

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Onioons
How to Build a Boat | Elaine Feeney
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I think this might break my heart but absolutely loving the first third...

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