Bobby Seed has questions.
What’s another word for ‘thesaurus’? How can I tell Bel I want her as my girl friend, not my girlfriend? How much pain is mum in today? Has she taken her pills? And sometimes, secretly, Why us?
Bobby’s little brother Danny has questions too
Will Bobby let him have Rice Krispies for dinner? Can he stay up late on the computer! And why won’t Mum’s stupid illness just GO AWAY?
But it’s Mum’s question for Bobby that could turn everything on its head.
It’s the Big One. The Unthinkable One. If Bobby agreed, he won’t just be soothing her pain. He’ll be helping to end it.
Brian Conaghan was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives in Dublin. He has a Master if Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. For many years Brian worked as a teacher and taught in Scotland, Italy and Ireland. His first YA novel for Bloomsbury, When Mr Dog Bites, was shortlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal, and his second, The Bombs That Bought Us Together, won the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award. We Come Apart, a verse novel co-authored with Carnegie Medal winner Sarah Crossan, won the 2018 UKLA Book Award, and his fourth novel, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, won the 2018 Irish Book Award for Teen & Young Adult Book of the Year. Now Available in paperback.
What I Thought
This is a fairly difficult review to write because I have quite conflicted thoughts about this book. It looks at a very controversial topic – assisted suicide/euthanasia – so it was always going to be an emotive read.
Bobby’s mum has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This is a condition I am familiar with through my work and so this is perhaps where some of the difficulty I had with the book comes from. It’s like when my dad used to complain about London’s Burning because that wasn’t what real firefighting was like.
It’s not completely inaccurate of course, and everyone experiences MS in different ways, but this seemed like a overly sudden progression.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. Bobby is 17 and classed as a young carer. His younger brother Danny also has undisclosed special needs so he looks after him too. Bobby’s teacher introduces him to a support group with other young people in the same situation. Much of this part of the book is about the connection he makes with the other people there. It reminds me a little of the group scenes in The Fault in Our Stars for that reason. There is some romance too. It was positive to see LGBT rep that wasn’t the main focus of the story too.
His mum asks a couple of big questions so don’t be fooled when the first isn’t the one indicated in the synopsis. My wish would have been a greater exploration about possible reasons for the first question.
School seems to drop off the radar for Bobby although it is his life outside that is the focus of this book.
My biggest difficulty I think is with how the euthanasia topic is handled and there are some quite shocking discussions and scenes around this. It definitely shows the need for a fuller discussion around this societally because there is a definite acknowledgement that young people should not have to be put in this situation.
And the ending was very abrupt. I don’t know if there are plans for a second book.
I did feel empathy towards Bobby and the scenes with his younger brother Danny were good. I liked their connection.
Personally I think I’m just maybe too close to this particular topic to read it completely as fiction.
Thanks to Ian and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of honest review.
Molly Darling wants life to be as simple as wellies and porridge – this is rural Ireland after all. Instead, Mum’s hiding in the attic; Dad’s run away, leaving only a PowerPoint to explain; her sister has a ham sandwich for a fiancé; there’s a boy and THE silence; her BFF will stop at nothing to go viral; and the chickens are missing. It’s enough to make a girl cantankerous. But she’ll fix it all. Easy, right?
Alvy Carragher grew up in rural Ireland. She has an MA in Writing, as well as a first collection of poems published by Salmon Poetry. A former resident of both Louisiana and South Korea, she is currently holed up in Vancouver where she is tinkering away at a second novel and learning to speak Canadian.
Find her on twitter at @alvycarragher
What I Thought
This is such a fun book, from the very first line you know you are going to be in for something different.
The Molly Darling of the title is an Irish teen who has every right to be cantankerous. She lives on a run down farm, her parents are separated, her mum is throwing herself into her art and her new boyfriend, and neglecting Molly and her sister Polly.
To top it off Molly’s pet chickens have “just disappeared”. The chickens were the only bit of normality in her life, giving her companionship and routine. And they form much more of the plot than you might be expecting. Like Molly, and everyone on social media, you will fall in love with Lady Macbeth the rooster that is at heart a chicken. Will they get their peaceful ever after?
Mum’s new boyfriend happens to be the father of one of the hot boys in school and complicated relationships with boys, friends, enemies and veganism abound. Polly’s imminent wedding brings their absent father back into the mix too!
The rural setting of the farm gives a unique backdrop to daring chicken rescues, activist meetings in a chicken shed and a family farm house with a teetering Great Wall of Books on the stairs. With the addition of viral and doctored social media videos you just know the peace and tranquility is going to be toppled.
Alvy Carragher writes with wit, warmth and humour and this book is just simply a joy to read.
Thanks to Laura and Chicken House Books for my #gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour stops.