Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box

A Swift Pure Cry
Inspired by true events, A Swift Pure Cry, by Siobhan Dowd, takes place in Ireland in 1984 and is about a 15 year old girl named Michelle, aka Shell, who must take care of her two younger siblings after her mother dies. Their father’s downward spiral into alcoholism drives Shell to seek affection from others around her. Although she initially finds herself drawn to a new, young priest in town, she eventually ends up giving in to the consistent advances of a slightly older local boy named Declan, who is also the on-again off-again boyfriend of her best friend, Bridget. Shell uses her secret relationship with Declan for a physical and emotional connection that keeps her from dwelling on her mother’s death. When Shell ends up pregnant, and both Bridget and Declan disappear, Shell finds herself doing her best to hide her pregnancy from her father and the rest of the community, while also trying to prepare herself for the inevitable. As Shell’s pregnancy becomes apparent to the small town, suspicions grow as to who the father of the child may be, and the suspicions are just as surprising to Shell as they are to the reader. In addition, when a dead infant is found in a cave on the beach, the town turns to Shell as the possible offender. The twists and turns in the story are both surprising and tragic, which make this book difficult to put down.

In A Swift Pure Cry, I love how I truly feel like I’m in Shell’s head. I feel everything that Shell is feeling and struggle with her along the way. Siobhan Dowd, who, sadly, died in 2007 from breast cancer, used Irish dialects and colloquialisms to give an authentic feel to her writing. Not only that, but Dowd’s use of descriptive and poetic imagery makes for a beautiful setting, amazing character development, and a wonderful plot.

Like everything I’ve read by Siobhan Dowd, A Swift Pure Cry is beautifully written, heartbreaking, and filled with hope. This novel teaches us the importance of having positive parental figures in our lives and the adverse effects a mother’s absence can make on a young girl, especially when her father “checks out” emotionally from the family as well. A Swift Pure Cry also reminds us that, in real life, there aren’t always happy endings. Tragedy occurs, and we live through those moments, coming out different on the other side, but, hopefully, also stronger.


Bookshelf: If you are someone who reads YA literature or have teens at home, I highly recommend keeping a copy of this book. It is well-written and although has many tragic moments, has a twinge of hope at the end, which is what I love most.

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