Rating: **** (4/5)
Published: Little, Brown & Co, September 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher (BEA)
A skeptical nurse is charged with observing a child who claims not to have eaten in four months. When Lib is sent to Ireland, she initially thinks that 11 year old Anna’s fast is a hoax. Lib is flabbergasted by Anna’s superstitions and Catholic piousness and is determined to expose the fraud. The first 150 pages are just Lib observing Anna and getting to know her family and the local culture. And there wasn’t much happening in Anna’s little Irish hamlet other than pilgrims flocking to her, interfering in Lib’s watch.
If it hadn’t taken more than half of the book for the momentum to really pick up, I would have given it 5 stars. By the final 50 pages, I was completely swept away. As more of Anna’s character was fleshed out, the more I liked her and sympathized with Lib’s difficult position. I was thoroughly vested in Anna’s survival, despite how frustrating her stubborn convictions were (not to mention the ignorance of other peripheral characters). The background given in the first half was absolutely necessary despite the slow buildup. Though my sick and twisted mind kind of predicted Anna’s motives, I was still deeply moved by what drove her to such extremes. It was the kind of ending that had me pondering it for a long while after I finished, so based on that, I would definitely recommend this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
Also by Emma Donoghue: Room