AUTHOR: SIOBHAN DOWD
Details: Young Adult Fiction
Read for One Cavan One Writer
The year is 1981 and Fergus is 18 years old and studying for his exams, hoping to score the three B’s he’ll need if he wants to move away from his home, on the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, to study to become a doctor.
He is up in the mountains, stealing peat with his uncle, when Fergus discovers a body in the ground. A body which becomes the focus of archaeologists as soon as it is reported and a body which brings Cora and her mother from Dublin to help in the excavation of the corpse and the uncovering the mysteries surrounding her death and burial.
Even before the discovery of the bog child Fergus’ life was complicated. His brother is in prison on terrorist charges and has recently decided to join the hunger-strikers. His parents are fighting about his brother’s decision and now a friend of his brothers forces him to make pick up and drops of mysterious packages.
And at night he dreams about the child he found in the bog, her voice telling him her story. A story that will ultimately help him face his own dilemmas.
This was a fascinating story. It contains a multitude of elements in its 300 pages. There is the political element of the struggles in Ireland and the different sides these forced people to take. There is the archaeological element of the bog child. But there are also more traditional young adult elements such as growing up, making difficult decisions and living with the consequences, dealing with the pressures involved in school exams and preparing for the future. And finally we have the love story as well as the shock of suddenly seeing people for who and what they really are.
This is a book that appears to be made for a good book discussion. A book dealing with lots of controversial topics without ever making a judgmental statement. The reader is at all times allowed to make up their own mind about the issues involved in what is a very clever balancing act by the author.
This is a book that should probably be read by every young adult in Ireland, both sides of the border, because it makes crystal clear that issues are never as black versus white as people would like to make them appear.