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The Island Child

Review

The Island Child

THE ISLAND CHILD tells the story of Oona, a girl born on a stormy night on the island of Inis, where she spent the first 16 years of her life. Oona was not happy there because of all the restrictions her mother imposed on her. So when she finally had a chance to leave the island, she did so immediately. She had no intention of ever going back; Inis was a place full of ghosts and bad memories that she has struggled to get rid of, even from a thousand miles away.

That all changes when Oona’s daughter runs away from home. To find Joyce, she needs to make peace with her past and is forced to return to Inis and face her demons.

"A complex and multilayered story that is beautiful, magical and sad, THE ISLAND CHILD is a book that you will want to consume in one sitting."

The same night that Oona was born, a boy named Felim also came into this world. Their mothers were so different, though both were newcomers to the island community. While Oona’s mother, Mary, tried to fit in and was a strict and religious person, Felim’s mother, Aislinn, was a free spirit and thus a society outcast. Their children resented them and wished they were different. Regardless of their differences and hostility, Oona and Felim’s lives were closely connected.

Oona’s childhood and upbringing were harsh and tragic, full of secrets and lies covered up in a religious cloth of morality. Her mother was a very unhappy and depressed woman who hid behind religion. It all took a toll on Oona, who became distant and was unable to express her feelings. She became a selfish adult who was cold to her husband, daughter and friends.

From the very beginning, I was mesmerized by how the story was written. It is quite dark and atmospheric, and author Molly Aitken does a magnificent job depicting a harsh life on the island where gender roles are strictly divided and where, if one wants to survive, one has to be a part of the community and listen to the priest. On another level, the story amazingly displays consequences of an emotionless relationship filled with resent, and how that can lead to transgenerational unhappiness. It also demonstrates what happens when someone else makes decisions about our lives and destinies, and when choices are taken away from us.

A complex and multilayered story that is beautiful, magical and sad, THE ISLAND CHILD is a book that you will want to consume in one sitting.

Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderović on September 11, 2020

The Island Child
by Molly Aitken

  • Publication Date: July 28, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0525658378
  • ISBN-13: 9780525658375