Six for Sunday: Books that made me want to shout
Welcome back to another week of #SixforSunday!
The theme for this week is Books that made me want to shout. I have chosen this to interpret this as books that I have wanted to shout about, to share their message because I think it is so important.
Making Sense of the Troubles
Compellingly written and even-handed in its judgments, this is by far the clearest account of what has happened through the years in the Northern Ireland conflict, and why. After a chapter of background on the period from 1921 to 1963, it covers the ensuing period–the descent into violence, the hunger strikes, the Anglo-Irish accord, the bombers in England–to the present shaky peace process. Behind the deluge of information and opinion about the conflict, there is a straightforward and gripping story.
This is the only non-fiction book on the list this week and one that I have read three times. I grew up in Northern Ireland, in the midst of ‘The Troubles’ which was ‘war’, but by another. The conflict continues today, although weapons were officially laid down in 1998 and peace was officially declared in 2005. There isn’t a single person in Northern Ireland who hasn’t been affected by The Troubles, either directly or indirectly, yet they aren’t spoken about much outside of the country. I am consistently surprised by how little people know about the conflict, even just across on the British mainland or south of the border. This book treads a very careful line, trying valiantly to give a balance view of the convoluted and complicated events that have caused conflict in Northern Ireland since before the border was drawn and Northern Ireland became a country in its own right. This should be essential reading for everyone, to understand the depths of pain caused by communities and families becoming split by religious and sectarian violence.
Tangleweed and Brine
Tangled tales of earth, salty tales of water
Bewitched retellings of thirteen classic fairy-tales with brave and resilient heroines. Tales of blood and intrigue, betrayal and enchantment from a leading Irish YA author.
Anyone who knows me will have heard me shouting about this book. It takes well-known fairy and folk tales and twists them, just a fraction, to reveal the assumptions that a patriarchal society have allowed us to accept as normal. The result is a call-to-arms, a challenge and I imagine reading this book will make you slightly uncomfortable in the way that the best books do. This book will linger with you for a long time and will reveal more and more depth with subsequent re-readings. Deidre Sullivan and Karen Vaughn are a dream team here as the ink illustrations perfectly complement Sullivan’s gorgeous prose.
The Exact Opposite of Okay
Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…
I have mentioned this book before and I have no doubt that I will again. Izzy O’Neill faces being slut-shamed after someone shares pictures of her online, without her permission. It affects her friends, family and her own self-confidence and the person behind it is someone who, unfortunately, we all probably know of in our own lives. This book reveals a lot about the societal view of women and shows how far we still have to come to achieve equality.
Noughts and Crosses
Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.
Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix.
When I first read this as a young teenager, it blew me away. I had never really thought about the fact that so-called ‘flesh-colour’ plasters and tights only came in one colour which didn’t match anyone I knew and certainly didn’t reflect the diversity of our society. While it may appear dated in relation to other more recent books, I still believe that this book was a really important step in getting people to challenge their own assumptions and unconscious biases. If you feel a slight jolt of surprise when it turns out that the societal underclass in this book are white, your unconscious prejudices are being challenged and that is a very good thing. Without our own assumptions being challenged, it can be easy to dismiss the concerns of others – just because you haven’t experienced it yourself does not make someone else’s experiences any less valid.
The Surface Breaks
Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.
This is another feminist retelling of a popular fairytale and I found myself wanting to highlight and share so many quotes from this that I would practically have highlighted the whole book. I inhaled this in one sitting, feeling like standing up and shouting about it to the world! I really need to get my full review written…
A Pocketful of Crows
I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)
So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.
Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.
This book is just an absolute beauty, inside and out. The language is lyrical and haunting and the story is one we all know, a story that keeps happening around the world. A girl falls in love…yet the one she loves is not true to her. So the girl decides to take her revenge on him…
This story will draw you in and refuse to let go!
What did you think of my choices?
Have you read any of these excellent books?
Which books have made you want to shout?
Let me know in the comments!
#SixforSunday is created by Steph from A Little But a Lot.
Check out some of my previous weeks of #SixforSunday here:
Thanks for reading!