Ghost Wall

Farrar. Jan. 2019. 144p. ISBN 9780374161927. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780374719555. F
OrangeReviewStarIn this latest from the acclaimed Moss (e.g., Night Waking), teenage Silvie from northern England is stuck in a family camping vacation from hell. Her domineering, amateur-historian father has brought her and her mother on a historical reenactment of Iron Age hunter-gatherers near the Scottish border in connection with a university archaeology class field trip. Aside from enduring his physical abuse, Silvie and her mother are burdened with foraging, cooking, and keeping the fire; domestic violence and gender roles are as old as time, after all. While the university professor and Silvie's dad ponder the mysteries of primitive female sacrifice among the ancient bog people, Silvie has firsthand knowledge of torture and scapegoating. As with much Brexit-era British fiction, the novel touches on issues of class and immigration. The posh professor and students are juxtaposed with Silvie's working-class family, and while Silvie's father seeks a historical justification for a pure Britain, an inconvenient fact is that the ancient world had its migrations, too.
VERDICT This novella-length story is thought provoking on multiple levels, with insights into primitive and modern societies, and coming of age in the face of family violence. [See Prepub Alert, 7/16/18.]
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