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How to Build a Boat: LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2023 by Elaine Feeney

As seen:

  • Booker Prize 2023 Longlist

By Elaine Feeney

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1 review

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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 13 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.


01 Dec 2023


A lovely easy read that's warm, melancholy and even a little bit mushy. It's beautifully written; I enjoyed the almost-poetry that appears from time to time. Although it raises some interesting points (neurodivergence, bullying, toxic masculinity, IVF and more) they are never really dealt with, they're just kind of there and then things move on. It would be a great one for a reading group as the issues are all there just waiting to be discussed.....

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