Grade 9 Up—A poignant tale, set in Ireland in 1984. When her mother dies, 15-year-old Shell Talent becomes trapped in a depressing life with her pious, but alcoholic father. Having given up his job to devote his life to the Lord, he leaves Shell and her younger siblings with no real means to support themselves. Longing to escape this cycle of poverty, Shell pins her hopes and dreams on visions of their new priest, Father Rose, as Jesus Christ come back to Earth. These dreams soon come to a crashing end as Shell turns to a schoolmate for solace. Trapped in a pregnancy that results from this relationship, she must make a decision that could mean life or death for the new life she carries. As Shell struggles to bring her child into her world unnoticed, Dowd drives home her message of the hopelessness of the situation through clear, concise, yet powerful language. Readers are introduced to an amazing young woman who, despite all odds, finds the strength to overcome a growing scandal that has the potential to disrupt the peaceful order of her small church and town.—Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library
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Everything's been wrong since 15-year-old Shell's Mam died. Her father forces his kids to say the rosary and then gets drunk. They live from money he skims off donations he collects for the church. Shell is left to take care of her younger brother and sister in their Irish village; her only joy comes in stolen moments with a local lad. Then her guy goes off to America, and though Shell pretends otherwise, she is pregnant. In a scene both graphic and horrific, Shell delivers a stillborn baby girl. The novel could have gone several ways, but perhaps because it is based on a true story, its path is unexpected. A dead baby is found, and the authorities, thinking it is Shell's, accuse her of murder. Moreover, the authorities suspect her own dad is the baby's father. Or perhaps the baby's father is the new priest. The words pure andcry in the title are apt, for this novel has a lyrical purity to it, and its cry is from the heart. Dowd evokes her setting impressively, and she realizes her characters with a sensitivity that is, at times, breathtaking. Not always easy to read, but well worth it. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I really liked this book. I think I read it in one day.
It was inspired by true events that happened in Ireland in the eighties. Read more
Ms Dowd is a phenomenal raconteuse! I could "see" the whole story as I read it, could smell the sea, could taste the scones. Read morePublished on August 3, 2013 by Linda Turrisi
Beautiful story. I am a big sucker for all things Irish. This is my first time reading Siobhan Dowd and I am completely in love. Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by C. Gerber
I loved this book. Clean but real. I would let my daughter read this once she hits this reading level/age group. Read morePublished on December 24, 2011 by RuralLibrarian
The one thing that stands out for me throughout this book is how a child is lost without its mother, compounded by a father who is absent most of the time. Read morePublished on February 16, 2011 by NenetteU