Another month where I have more than one audio book of the month. The first one is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  We are discussing this one with the group this month.  This year is also the 50th anniversary of publication.  The second choice is is one of the set books for the Children’s Literature I’m currently studying – Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

This is such a brilliant, perfect book.  It was one of the few books I had to read at school and didn’t hate, but the good news is that I’d actually forgotten the ending so that was something I got to discover all over again.  I finished it on Wed when I was at the hospital and I was 30 mins early for my appointment and I was right in the middle of a really exciting bit when they called my name!!!  But I got to finish it on the bus home.   Recommended to everyone, and currently being discussed with the group – don’t miss it!

Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him – his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what, a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls. “Bog Child” is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.

I can’t really fault this book at all but I’m still holding back half a star just because, I find it hard to give five stars.

This is a book I read for the Children’s Lit course but it’s not a set text.  One of the options for the ECA is to focus on the most recent Carnegie Medal winner but the book isn’t specified in the course because it wasn’t announced at the time the course materials were printed.  Anyway, it turned out to be this book.  It’s set in Northern Ireland in 1981 during a particularly bad period of the Troubles, lots of bombings, the hunger strikes, Bobby Sands etc.  The main character Fergus is 18 so the book is definitely suitable for more mature teenagers rather than “children” due to subject content, some swearing and some teenage fumbling in the dark.  There are parts that are very hard to read, especially about the hunger strikers.  There were actual hunger strikers in the Maze prison at the time the book is set but the hunger strikers in this book are all fictional and not based on real people.  Fergus is dealing with a lot of regular things like his A level exams, and hoping to get good results so he can leave Northern Ireland to study medicine in Aberdeen, but at the same time, he is not living in a normal place, the IRA are active, there are car bombings, north/south border smuggling, hunger strikers including his own brother, and then when him and his uncle are out (illegally) digging up peat, he finds the body of a child buried in the middle of the peat.  I should say that there is also a lot of funny moments in the book and it’s not all gloom and doom.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, it’s a terrific read and it is beautifully written and a real coming of age story set in a time and place that is not familiar to a lot of people.  Unfortunately, the author had breast cancer and died in 2007 and the book was posthumously published in 2008 and was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 2009.