Friday, June 26, 2009

Map of Ireland by Stephanie Grant

Ann Ahern is 16 and living in South Boston. Her pale skin, blue eyes, red hair and freckles are as clear an indication of her Irish heritage as a map of Ireland. Ann explains how she came to be serving a 20-month sentence for burning down the house of a friend. It happens when she was only just beginning to learn about the fires of passion; she gets a crush on her Senegalese French teacher, Madmoiselle Eugenie, and falls in love with Rochelle, a Black teammate on her basketball team.

The fact that Ann is romantically interested in her own sex is not such a big thing for her, because she has been attracted to girls for a long time, but the colour barrier is a big one. 1974 marks the first year of forced integration of schools through bussing. Ann's mother is one of the women kneeling with rosaries in front of the busses, praying that the Black students will go back to their own neighbourhood. Parents throw rocks at busses containing young students. A group of boys lights Madmoiselle Eugenie's car on fire.

This is a short, gripping novel about coming-of-age in a complex situation. It has been marketed as an adult novel, yet has very much of a YA feel to it. Grade 9 and up.

No comments: