The Island Child

Knopf. Jul. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780525658375. $26.95. F
DEBUT Everyone has secrets on the island of Inis off the coast of Galway. In the small community under the sway of a domineering priest, the men make a meager living fishing while the women tend their ramshackle homes. Here Oona grows up with an overprotective mother and distant father, with two older brothers providing her only real support. Dreaming of escape, she gets her chance to leave when a shipwrecked stranger arrives on their shore and offers to take her away. Following a night of brutal violence, Oona accepts. Their shipboard marriage and move to Ottawa do little to improve Oona’s life. Her overbearing mother-in-law, a new baby, and the corrosive secrets she keeps lead to a deep depression that alienates her husband and daughter. Many years later, a trip back to Ireland in search of her missing daughter finally forces her to confront the demons that upended her life.
VERDICT A dreamy fairy tale winds its way through this moody story of loss and redemption, which focuses on mothers and daughters and the ways in which they grow apart and sometimes find their way back. For most fiction readers. [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/20.]

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