03 September 2022

Bog Child

Bog ChildBog Child by Siobhan Dowd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is classified as "young adult" -- at least I found it in the Young Adult section of the library, but i can say that this old adult enjoyed it immensely, and I think it can be read by adults of any age. When I picked it up and started reading the blurb, I immediately thought of The Barrytown Trilogy and others by Roddy Doyle, but it wasn't really like those, though it does deal with Irish family life.

Fergus McCann is 18 years old, living with his parents and two younger sisters in Northern Ireland. His brother Joe is in jail for IRA activities, and thinking of joining other prisoners in a hunger strike. While out with his uncle digging for peat Fergus discovers what appears to be the body of a child. The place where they are digging is close to the border, so they notify the police from both sides, but the pathologist recons the body is old, and so they call in an archaelogist.

Fergus has a lot on his plate. He is writing his A-level exams and hopes to go to Scotland to study medicine. He's also learning to drive and hopes to pass his driving test. One of his brother's mates asks him to take dubious packages across the border, so he feels under pressure from all sides. The book is about how he tries to cope with all this, and all the way through you can feel the pressure on Fergus, feel for him as he tries to cope with several dilemmas and no sooner has he dealt with one than the unfinished business of one of the others crops up. And thoughout it all he dreams of the bog child, and shat she might have faced.

Not quite a Bildungsroman, but the picture of a young man at a particularly intense and stressful period of his life.

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