Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors. I’m passionate about Irish Authors, there is a great and exciting mix of books to choose from, hopefully you will find something new to try. Today I’m sharing a historical YA/MG fiction set in Belfast.
Stormclouds by Brian Gallagher is a Young Adult book set in Northern Ireland in the late 1960’s and I think it should be compulsory reading for every Irish young person. It is all too easy to forget the dangerous and troubled times of our not-so-distant past and forgetting is a luxury that shouldn’t be permitted.
Stormclouds by Brian Gallagher
Published by O'Brien Press, Limited on 28 Dec 2013
Genres: Family, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Received from Publisher
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Big changes are coming to late-Sixties Belfast. At first life seems normal for Sammy and Maeve, two children from the opposing republican and loyalist communities. Sammy tries to avoid trouble with his unemployed father, while Maeve has lived with her aunt and uncle since her mother's death.
When twins Dylan and Emma Goldman move from Washington to Belfast they strike up friendships with Maeve and Sammy. Gradually the nationalist girl and loyalist boy overcome their suspicions of each other, and all four children become friends. But even as they have fun at local sports clubs, attend the Goldman's barbeques, and secretly make their own radio programmes, they can't ignore the trouble that is slowing gripping the country.
And when the simmering tensions in Northern Ireland erupt into violence it threatens not just their friendships - but their very lives.
First Line of Stormclouds:
“Maeve wanted to scream”.
My Thoughts on Stormclouds:
This book has a lovely innocence about it against a backdrop of violence and hatred. The innocence comes from the teenagers and their want for everyone to just get along. There are 4 main characters, you have a guy from a Nationalist background, a girl from a Loyalist background and then a brother and sister from the US who have just moved to Belfast. When they put their differences aside, they mix freely and easily and just have fun.
The characters seem to be younger than the age given in the book but maybe that is more to do with the book being set in the 1960’s rather than current times. All are likeable and feel realistic. They are strikingly different in their backgrounds but together they are just normal pre-teens and teenagers.
However the tension bubbling in Belfast is about to explode and it is impossible for anyone to escape unscathed. Stormclouds is a great title as it a dark, gloomy part of our history and reading this book gives you a little insight into just how scary it must have been to live through. I grew up listening to the death toll on the news but I felt far removed from it all and reading this book has made me thank my lucky stars that I was in that position.
The book takes a shocking but not unrealistic twist and that is the part that made my rating a little lower than it otherwise might have been. I just didn’t feel it. It was sad but it should have been heartbreaking and somehow I just wasn’t that emotionally invested. The book is quite short so it’s a very quick read but I would have loved a few more chapters to develop the characters more.
Aside from that, the pace was great. It captures a volatile Belfast so well and I couldn’t put the book down as my nerves were shattered from the tension that was slowly but solidly building up all the way though; you just knew it was going to end explosively. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it brings the past to life in a very readable, engaging way.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read Stormclouds?
As I said at the beginning I think all Irish YA’s should read this one. Also if you have an interest in Irish history or just want to try some Irish Young Adult, then try this one.
Thanks to O’Brien Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review