What happened to Gran’s best friend, Catherine Dalton, who vanished without a trace on Bloody Sunday three quarters of a century ago? Determined to find out, Rosie travels back in time to Gran’s childhood, where she experiences the poverty and warmth of Dublin’s tenement life and the dangers of a city in turmoil. (Goodreads description)
Well, it was a long long time since last I read a children’s book. Before the Young Adult genre became a thing, I read a lot of children stories. Let me tell you, I see now why I like them a lot more than I do Young Adult.
Young Adult seems ‘too much’ on all aspects. As a genre, it is too angsty, to exaggerate, too egocentric and in general, it takes itself too seriously.
Children’s stories are almost the exact opposite. They are down to earth, curious of the world, they go after discovery, and they do so in a way that is sometimes weird and unconventional.
This story is like this. Rosie, a 12-year-old Dubliner, inexplicably finds herself in 1920 and meets her grandma when she had her same age. She makes friends and discovers that ‘the good old days’ are almost always not as good as we think. She also learns to appreciate what she has.
The story is quite straightforward. Rosie wants to learn what happened to a friend of her grandma’s who disappeared after the Bloody Sunday of 1920. But this is only an excuse to show life how it was at that time. To explore the atmosphere of that time in Irish history. How people lived, what they hoped for and what they feared.
I appreciated the story for this very reason. It is chock full of details about everyday life in Dublin, in the 1920s. Most of it doesn’t feel like coming from research, but rather from oral history. I have no troubles imagining that Ann Carroll (who wrote this story in 1995) learned a lot from her own grandparents.
The story is a bit dated, if I may say. The language Rosie used, though teenagers in 1995 would have certainly recognised it as their own, now sounds more dated than the 1920s language. Rosie herself is a larger-than-life character, which was also a characteristic of children’s stories back in the 1990s, as I recall.
But I still found it engaging and easy to read.
NOTE: I discovered later that this is only a part of a longer series exploring Irish history of different decades. Here is the entire series.
The Thursday Quotables was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy. It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.
This post is also part of the Reading Ireland Month (also known as the Begorrathon) organised by Cathy Brown of the 746 Books Blog. This is a yearly celebration of everything culturally Irish, with a heavy lean towards authors and books.