Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: YA Fiction – social issues and light magical realism
What did you like about the book? On Deena Rys’s 17th birthday, she decides to come out to her family; while her more reserved older sister seems to be accepting, her wild sister, Mandy, inexplicably reacts with upset. After running away from Deena, Mandy is seen jumping from a cliff. While the family is saddened by Mandy’s apparent suicide, no one is terribly surprised; see, the women of Deena’s family have always fought against their inclination towards trouble – the lot of them have always been “bad apples”.
But soon after Mandy’s funeral, Deena finds the letters. Letters that shouldn’t exist, all of them from Mandy. The letters tell the story of the women of the Rys family, the story of the curse that follows them, and the fate that Deena may find waiting for her at the hands of banshees if she becomes a bad apple as well. So Deena sets out to follow the path her sister has left for her, to learn the pain of her family’s past, the fight each of the women in her family have fought, and to try to break the curse and possibly bring Mandy back.
This book is so beautiful and powerful it was impossible to put down. The author says that this book was written “from a place of rage” against the government of Ireland and the lack of separation between church and state. Fowley-Doyle takes us through so many hardships that are especially relevant in today’s social climate, and reminds Deena and the reader that our past is always present in the paths we take, and that the strength of women should never be forgotten.
Trigger Warning for many dark issues: rape, incest, abuse, abortion, forced pregnancy, LGBT discrimination, suicide
Anything you did not like about the book. I felt like the author may have been trying to include too many social issues to take on by the last chapter, so it felt a little scattered. But I also am not an expert in the current social climate in Ireland, so I will not speak as to what had to be addressed.
To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book to readers interested in women’s rights in both a historical and modern setting, who enjoy a story where the reader is not always 100% sure what is real and what is not.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Emily Tricco, Goodnow Library, Sudbury MA
Date of review: 9/2/19