Fifteen-year-old Shell Talent's life has been spiraling downward.
Her father's drinking keeps him out of work, and her family firmly
rooted in poverty. After the death of her mother, she's left to
care for her younger brother and sister. With the recent arrival of
a young priest named Father Rose to Shell's remote Irish town, she
discovers solace in renewed piety and spirituality though his
powerful sermons. Though when Shell makes a pivotal choice, she
finds herself pregnant and embroiled in a town-wide scandal. Shell
must then overcome and persevere though her tragic circumstances;
though trite-sounding, Shell's story closes with a remarkably
upbeat conclusion. Inspired by real events, Shell's voice is
palpably heartbreaking and honest; and her situation evokes
immediate pathos from the reader. Set in the mid-1980s in Ireland,
Dowd successfully characterizes Ireland as an integral part of the
story. Told through flowing eloquent prose, with strong Joycean
influences, this engrossing and haunting tale will not let the
reader go. (Fiction. YA) (Kirkus Reviews)
After Shell's mother dies, her obsessively religious father
descends into alcoholic mourning and Shell is left to care for her
younger brother and sister. Her only release from the harshness of
everyday life comes from her budding spiritual friendship with a
naive young priest, and most importantly, her developing
relationship with childhood friend, Declan, charming, eloquent and
persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his
fortune in America, Shell finds herself pregnant and the centre of
a scandal that rocks the small community in which she lives, with
repercussions across the whole country. The lives of those
immediately around her will never be the same again.
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