Friday, January 1, 2010

Bog Child

Finding a dead child curled up in the peat is a difficult way to start off your day, but these are difficult times for Fergus and the child ends up being the least of his worries.  The year is 1981 and Ireland is in the midst of a violent conflict called The Troubles.  Fergus's only hope of getting away is to earn good enough grades on his finals to go to school in Scotland, but how is he supposed to study with his brother slowly dying in a hunger strike in prison?  And what should he do when his older brother's best friend tries to get him to run goods across the border for the Irish Republican Army?  In the meantime the child ends up being an archaeological find preserved by the bog and Fergus has to play host to the archaeologist and her daughter that come to investigate.  Is voting for a cause enough, or should Fergus act?  Will his brother survive? Will they uncover the mystery of the bog child?

I really enjoyed this book because it does a good job presenting the situation at the time as well as depicting the fact that every day life does continue even during difficult times.  Fergus's brother is in danger of dying in a protest, but he still has to study for his finals and practice for his driving test.  He still forms a crush on the archaeologist's cute daughter.  Life goes on, even in the midst of death.  I also enjoy the parallel story of the bog child that is revealed through Fergus's dreams and the friendship he forges with a soldier for the other side.  This book does not have any easy answers, and I love that.  One thing that did bug me about the book is the fact that nothing is written in dialect except when the characters curse.  I guess parents are less likely to object to fecking, but that seems like a cop out to me.  If you don't want to write the dialogue in dialect so it's easier for kids to understand, fine, but be consistent with it.  Still, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it, especially for its insights to a conflict that I think most American teenagers are largely ignorant of, and probably plenty of American adults as well.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd ISBN: 9780385751698

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