I'm not sure what to think about this story. I feel for Gabriel. He had these feelings and didn't know why or who to turn to.
I feel his relationship with his mother was like any mother in Ireland. She raised her kids the best way she knew. It was a job. And it is a job to take care of the family the way she did. I think Gabriel's parents were happy. But not in the sense as we know of. Mrs Harkin had a good provider, and she kept wheels of the family and marriage going. I think when she spat out to Gabriel who his father was, I think Gabriel had a hard time making peace with her. Somethings that he thought he could talk to his mother now made him think before he spoke.
And his relationship with Gabriel's father was strained. It always felt that he was picking on Gabriel. But than again Gabriel didn't see how Mr.Harkin was. He played sports, worked hard, did what was expected out of him. Made Mr. Harkin confused when Gabriel would be interested in things that were off beat. But there were good times too between them. Which made Gabriel confused of his father. It comes down to both had a horrible time communicating with each other. But again in Ireland that wasn't even thought of like that.
I think by Gabriel being bullied did change his personality a bit. I think he became shy and again with his feelings of not "being normal" had to keep that in check. As he got older though enough is enough. He fought back, got himself some friends, trying for the normality. Although family makes it easier. I have experience in bullying. I was bullied. I would go out of my way not to be around these people as Gabriel did. It made me more withdrawn. I really never had friends when I was growing up. Until high school, but not a lot than either. But I think I turned out ok. Married my friend's brother, had a couple of kids. They accepted me as I am.
I think Gabriel thought that would happen to him by going to England and starting anew.
Well since Gabriel went to a lot of dances the 1st one is a little blurry. But I think being in a romantic setting shows that Ireland was/is changing with the world. Especially America these kids (girls), make themselves older than they are just to keep up with everyone else. It is hard to know what age they are. Why is everyone so eager to grow up so fast?
This novel I believe just focuses on the troubles of the Catholics and Protestants. I don't think the author really dug in with the politics. He tried with bringing the IRA character in. Which made Mr. Harkin more political than Mrs. Harkin. The IRA soldier might have a point on comparing the family of The Grapes of Wrath. Both the Irish and Joad Family put the families in the community to be stronger and safer against all.
Gabriel is just as well a Irishman as anyone else. It's just that Mr. Harkin believes that you need to be strong and fight. Like a well rounded person like everyone else in that time.
The shocking news that Gabriel's mother had told Gabriel the news of his biological father was interesting. By this time I was waiting for something to come off the pages. I feel Gabriel needed to take all in with his siblings. All these years he thought they were blood. In time he will accept them, for they accepted Gabriel. They truly love each other. Mrs. Harkin eventually would take back what happened. She goes on instinct and didn't think how hurtful everything would be for Gabriel.
I know I wouldn't know how to handle things back than. I probably would of acted the same. But today, getting older, maturing I feel there is more acceptance with me. I love my kids. I choose sharing there lives with me. Being a part of family. I'm just sad that Gabriel was trying to find a way to be normal. That he had to make so many comprises to just fit in. And still there was a mystery of who he was. I have a feeling that Mr. Harkin even though knew it wasn't a 'phase' knew Gabriel was normal and will be who he is. I think he was the only one that believed in Gabriel.
I do agree on one of the reviews that the cliche's of being gay that they can't do anything else than being a hairdresser, fashion designer, play sports etc.. is wrong. That is why today we should be teaching our children that they can be anything, anyone. Even President!
I give a son called Gabriel 4
Just because the story was more slow than the flow moving. It had it's moments but far in between.