Life on a farm in the West of Ireland in the 1950s and 60s is anything but easy. Marked by scarcity and hardship, most families have a hard time simply keeping a roof over their heads and food in the mouths of their ever-expanding broods of children. Though at age fourteen and still technically a boy, young Tom Gallagher already does the work of an adult. His father works in England most of the year, returning each spring for a few weeks to cut the year’s supply of fuel and plant the crops. When his father stops coming, brother Eamon, at sixteen, becomes man of the house. When Eamon bails out to England, Tom, at fourteen, steps into his brother’s larger shoes and assumes the responsibility for completing the heavy tasks of farming with little mechanization—and impossible without the help of his mother and sisters. In this engaging memoir about growing up in hard times, Gallagher weaves the story of his own hardscrabble childhood through the larger cultural and historical contexts of the time, crafting a fascinating look at one young boy’s life and the world in which he lived. Never resorting to self-pity or sentimentalism, Gallagher tells his tale in the great traditions of Irish storytellers, mixing plenty of wit, humor, and irony with the gritty realities of his experience—and the result is mesmerizing.