Factory Girls

Hachette Audio. Nov. 2022. 10:27 hrs. ISBN 9781649041302. $27.99. F
Gallen’s (Big Girl, Small Town) latest follows 18-year-old Maeve Murray, caught in the limbo of her small Northern Irish town as she works in a shirt-making factory and waits for news of her exam results. Set in 1994 during the last days of the Troubles, the story highlights the ever-present tension between the Catholics and the Protestants as they struggle to make ends meet amid the constant threat of violence. Narrator Amy Molloy channels the grittiness of the hard-scrabble town, the weight of Maeve’s worries, and the simmering frustrations of factory workers who are asked to do more and more, although they are only given the paltriest of incentives. Molloy adds delightful touches throughout—self-satisfied grunts, sniffs of disapproval, and snorts of laughter. Her command of Irish slang feels perfect, bringing out Maeve’s no-nonsense approach and knack for deadpan humor. There are laugh-aloud moments, such as Gallen’s stomach-turning description of Maeve’s mother’s pasta (“a sticky pile of porridge-coloured worms”), beautifully balanced with poignant moments that capture the terror of living during this time.
VERDICT A testament to the strength and resilience of a teen on the cusp of adulthood. Fans of Derry Girls will love it.
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