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Reviewed by Kathryn Bennett for Readers' Favorite
The Irish Patient by Paul Byrne takes us to Ireland and gives us a very candid look at what it was like to grow up in the '70s and '80s on a council estate. A story that comes right from the author's real life which involved wonderful adventures in the mountains and on beaches in Ireland. Then Paul becomes ill and has to face the truth about how trying the health service really is. Paul has to face an illness on his own, an illness which is unique, embarrassing, and serious.
This book was an eye opener for me and many times I wanted to reach into the story and give author Paul Byrne a big hug. Life is not always easy for any of us growing up, but some things just should never have to be faced. While confessing some guilt and bad feeling over the loss of a family dog after the dog had been sick for a while, we also discover that he hung out with a gang of toughs, and one friend seemed rich because he had a washer and dryer, and fizzy drinks in his fridge. While growing up, my family never had a lot of money, but we did have a washer and dryer, and soda sometimes. It is hard to imagine those as luxury items, but when you really think about it, they are and were, especially in the '70s and '80s.
This book really feels like a 'warts and all' telling of life, and it's about more than what it's like to have an illness when you don't really have any money. Mr. Byrne has reason to be upset at the way the health care system in Ireland works - it truly did fail him miserably and his story truly did touch me and make me think. Anyone who wants a no-nonsense look at what happens when you are poor, ill, and have something that is hard - if not impossible - to diagnose should take a look at this book. A good and informative read. A clear indication that there are many things in this world that are broken and we need to start fixing them.