When Deena’s mysterious and wild sister Mandy vanishes – presumed dead- her family are heartbroken. The thing is Mandy has always been troubled and it is just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe Mandy isn’t dead.
Then, letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s bas history isn’t just bad luck or bad decisions, it is actually a curses, handed down through generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots and now Deena must find her. Will what they find heal their family’s rotten past or rip it apart forever.
This book is extremely deep and moving. When I finished it I just sat there for 20 minutes trying to gather my thoughts and stay calm. It is all about feminism, the history of abuse, cruelty and discrimination that women and queer people have suffered through forever. Möira Fowley Doyle really went for it in this novel and she well and truly nailed it.
This book is in no way a light read. It is written beautifully and flows incredibly though. I went into this thinking it was just about a girl hoping to find her missing sister after they failed to be ‘good enough’ for their family. It is so so much more than this.
To start off with Deena is only 17 whereas her older sisters are in their 30s. Their mother has died and their father is absent and absolutely horrible. He is also extremely religious. When Mandy goes missing it is essentially ruled a suicide. So, when Deena finds letters from Mandy, her search for her sister begins.
The letters from Mandy talk all about their family history which is incredibly hard to read about at times. Imagine 1930s in Ireland where everything in extremely catholic and they treated women inhumanly. At points I had to stop reading for a while because of how much it angered, shocked and upset me. It upsets me even more knowing that these things really did happen and women were really treated like that. This book deals with rape, lack of abortion rights, woman having their children ripped away from them and how hundreds and hundreds of women and babies died in workhouses. As well as how queer people were treated and murder and how they still are. So, as you can imagine at times this book does get tough to read but it is so necessary, eye-opening and incredible.
This book was written by an author who was outraged and wanted her readers to feel outraged too and honestly it does just that. It makes me upset for how women were treated and how privilege I am in today’s society and how much I take it for granted without realising.
This book has a past vs present story line that I enjoyed so much more than I expected. Sometimes I don’t gel with books like this as they take me out of the original story and make me lose interest. This didn’t happen with this book, the past story actually made me more interest in the present story.
In the present story line, Deena narrates in 1st person. I loved Deena’s character a lot, she is unreliable and messy and worried about being a ‘bad apple’. But, she is incredible. Then in the past, we go through several generation of Deena’s ancestors. I was hooked on the past sections of the book and couldn’t wait for the next one. I feel these past sections made this book more powerful and important for me.
There is a whole host of diversity in this book. Deena is queer, Cale is queer and Deena’s best friend is bi and black. This book really is a love letter to all the minorities who have been silenced in the past.
This is a book I will be thinking about for a long time and is so worth the read. We need more loud and proud books like this that talk about things queer women and people have to suffer through now and in the past. It is so refreshing to read YA books like this and there really needs to be more just like it!