Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Small Sacrifices

While cutting peat with his Uncle Tally, 18-year-old Fergus McCann sees an unusual glint in the turf. Gently brushing the dirt away, he uncovers a coil of metal encircling a tiny wrist. The small body, later christened ‘Mel,’ was found on the north-south border of Ireland in 1981, during the Troubles.

So begins Bog Child, a Young Adult novel written by Siobhan Dowd. Appealing to both teens and adults, the book is rich in imagery, complex characters, and moral dilemmas.

Fergus has vivid dreams about Mel, which serve to tell the story of her life in the first century A.D. She lives with a loving family in a small village. Grey fog blocks sunlight from the fields, and crops are failing. While people are starving, the local leader demands tribute in food, placing their lives in further jeopardy. When he is murdered, his death must be avenged.

In the present, Fergus wants to pass his exams so he can escape to medical school. His older brother, Joey, is in jail and has joined the hunger strike. Their distraught mother seeks solace in religion, while their father stoically supports Joey’s choice. When Fergus thinks he has a chance to help Joey, he takes part in a dangerous mission that goes against his principles.

How far will Mel - or Fergus - go, to save those they love?

I listened to the audiobook of Bog Child from Library2Go, lyrically narrated by Irish actress Sile Bermingham. It is also available in print from our catalog.

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