• $13.99

Publisher Description

My mother made a snap decision.
How could we know it would change us forever?

'Brimming with curiosity and wonder.' Irish Times
'Lushly atmospheric.' Daily Mail
'Thoroughly gripping.' Lucy Caldwell
'Brilliant.' Sara Baume

Rage. That's the feeling engulfing the car as Ellen's mother swerves over to the hard-shoulder and orders her daughter out onto the roadside. Ignoring the protests of her other children, she accelerates away, leaving Ellen standing on the gravel verge in her school pinafore and knee socks as the light fades.

What would you do as you watch your little sister getting smaller in the rear view window? How far would you be willing to go to help her? The Gallagher children are going to find out. This moment is the beginning of a summer that will change everything.

Fiction & Literature
26 January
Faber & Faber
Faber and Faber Limited

Customer Reviews

rhitc ,

Strong start

3.5 stars

American with Irish roots (Father from County Sligo). Sixth of 8 children. Born and raised in Philadelphia. Studied English in Tennessee then returned to Philly for her Masters at Temple Uni. Moved to County Sligo in the 1990s and has lived and taught there ever since. This is her first novel.

In brief
Single Mom and her five kids (aged 18 down to 7) live in a forested hillside house adjacent to Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania. (During the American Revolution, it was one of the winter encampments of George Washington's Continental Army.) Mom, who is poorly suited to mothering, was estranged from the Irish father of the four oldest kids for some time prior to his death a year earlier. Kid number 5 has a different Dad, whom number 1 to 4 have never met. It's the last day of school. Sick of the bickering in the car on the way home, Mom tosses the 12 year old girl out to find her own way home. She hitches a ride from a dodgy dude, escapes by jumping from the moving vehicle, and eventually finds her way back to where her 15 year-old sister is babysitting. The other kids take care of her and keep it secret from Mom. Local bad boy vows to, and does, teach dodgy dude a lesson, which becomes a central motif in a coming of age summer narrated by the 15-year-old sister.

Character driven narrative with themes of family, belonging, resilience, yada, yada. Pity the narrator was the least interesting character. The prose felt to me like creative writing school boilerplate at times. (Bitchy, eh?)

Bottom line
Failed to capitalise on a strong and suspenseful opening.