Fifteen-year-old J. J. Liddy has two problems. One is the same one that so plagues modern man: there is just not enough time in the day to do everything he wants to do. The other is some dark secret on his mother's side that makes him want to change his last name to his father's. The Liddy's go way back in Ireland. J. J,'s parents never married, so the name would not be lost. But once J. J. hears of a terrible deed done long in the past by a Liddy, he starts to reinvent himself as J. J. Byrne.
J. J.'s mother lets him in on the truth behind the deed, which is closely tied to the musical legacy of the Liddy's and the abiding faith in fairies the Irish hold to to this day. Some did not adhere to such beliefs, however. J. J.'s great-grandfather was one who suffered from a detractor who thought these beliefs ridiculous and dangerous. Said detractor later disappeared with the man's beloved flute. Neither was seen again. The rumor began J. J.'s namesake murdered his great adversary. But is this what really happened?
J. J. also learns of another secret, also tied to his family's musical gifts. That night he starts to give his mother the birthday present she must craves: more time. He tells a neighbor of his determination to do this. She tells him she will help him, and it involves going to a fairy mound near her home.
She leads him through it to Tír an nÓg, the Celtic underworld. The people there are more than willing to sell him all the time in the world, if only they could figure out how to do that. Time has entered their timeless world from our stressed-out, frantic one, and they do not like it. Because there is a leak now between the two worlds with time running out in ours into theirs, a way must be found to repair the damage to both worlds. Not to mention it would solve one of the greatest mysteries known to man, but I won't spoil that for you, or tell you more of the wonderful and terrible consequences of J. J.'s quest for his special gift.
I really enjoyed this book. The title character is but a minor one, wrapped in mystery, but an important one. In keeping with the frantic pace of the modern world, it's a quick read and a fun one too. The outcome of J. J.'s quest has much to teach us all about the value of time and timelessness. We shall all take heed of the lesson to take a breath and slow down and enjoy life, not merely rush through it to the next thing.