Parents' Guide to

Bog Child

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Lyrical but realistic; teens may need Irish history lesson.

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Kids say (3 ):

This is a lovely book about an unlovely time and place -- a grim Northern Irish town in the early '80s. Fergus and his family are appealing characters living through exceptionally difficult events, and the parallel story of the long-ago life of Mel, the bog child, seen through Fergus' troubled dreams, adds resonance and depth to the story. Especially touching are Fergus' forbidden friendship with a young British border guard, and his family's division and desperation over his brother Joe's hunger strike: "Oh, Joe. The consequences. On you, on us, on all of us. Did you think of them? Did you?"

Basing the story on real events at the Long Kesh prison, the late author, British herself, assumes that her readers know all about the Troubles, and understand the terminology of Provos and Unionists and Sinn Fein. She helps them out with only the briefest of Author's Notes, and no glossary. American teens will need some help with context, either by explaining it to them or pointing them toward researching it for themselves. Without that context the story is still readable, but makes a whole lot less sense.


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