I absolutely loved this book. In the words of Caroline O’Donoghue herself, it’s a banger. Charlie is an aspiring filmmaker. Her father is dying from cancer and Charlie struggles to balance her career and her family. She has just made a film based on a childhood tragedy of her father’s. He was the sole surviving child in a fatal gas leak in his school on the island of Clipim. Charlie travels to Ireland, and subsequently to Clipim where she must confront the past and discover the truth.
Charlie’s trip to Ireland is quite funny initially as she considers herself Irish but has never visited the country before. The book tackles many romantic stereotypes that Ireland has been given by many. Ireland is often seen as a friendly, welcoming, and happy nation, yet the real truth is that we have as many issues and dark historical secrets beneath the surface. The book delves into the cover-ups and the denial of the truth. A warning to readers that it does discuss the abuse of women and children at the hands of the Catholic Church.
Charlie herself is someone that you are rooting for from the very start. She is lost and hurt that her career has not taken off like her friend Laura. She is also mourning her friendship with Laura, who in my mind does not treat her well. Laura’s off-hand remarks about past situations between the two, and even about remarks about LGBTQ+ were incredibly hurtful. Yet the relationship and feelings between the two felt agonisingly real. The pain of watching your friend move on with their life, their career taking off, and feeling left behind are ones that many can relate to in this book.
Graphic: Child death and Death
Moderate: Sexual content and Terminal illness
Minor: Forced institutionalization and Homophobia