Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd

Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd

    

 

Bog Child - Siobhan DowdThis year Bog Child won the Carnegie medal for children's literature, making author Siobhan Dowd the first posthumous winner. Reading Bog Child it's easy to see why; the story is told skilfully and beautifully with not a single metaphor or simile out of place. Aside from the sheer beauty of the language, which whether a description of a character's feelings and memories, or simply the sky over a mountain never fails to illicit an emotional response, Bog Child stands out for its sensitive handling of complex and weighty themes, blending deep truths and harsh realities from two lives in two times with comedy, friendship and romance. It is a mark of Dowd's skill as a writer that while these ‘big themes' - political and personal conflict, self-sacrifice, death, love and the recurrence of misunderstanding and intolerance throughout the ages - are apparent all through the novel they never slow the pace of the action or get the book bogged down in a mire of self-conscious moralising. The drama is fast-paced and enjoyable with the appealingly human and sympathetic hero Fergus forced to face various difference situations and questions many of which parallel those that the equally human Mel - the bog child - has to deal with in Iron Age Ireland where, like Fergus, she is under immense pressure to find an answer to the question posed on the front cover. Dark and serious in some places, light and surprisingly tender in others Bog Child is a book of misunderstandings and illusions and nothing is quite as it seems. For all this Bog Child - despite its darkness, its troubled setting and its tormented protagonists - is shot through with optimism and love of life which makes it a joy to read even in its darkest moments, making this a book I would recommend to anyone - except perhaps those who cry easily.

Amy

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