While on the road this summer, I read and loved Siobhan Dowd's A Swift Pure Cry. I never did get around to reviewing it and then Siobhan Dowd passed away at the desperately young age of 47 and I lost heart. Fortunately, my mom read A Swift Pure Cry as well and here is her review:
This review was written by Alice Herold
A Swift Pure Cry is set in 1984 in southern Ireland. Shell (whose real name is Michelle) is fifteen and strong, courageous, and wild-spirited. She also acts as the caretaker for her younger brother and sister.
A Swift Pure Cry is a story full of causes and effects:
- Cause: Shell's mother dies. Effect: Shell's father spirals out of control into drunkenness, poverty, and insanity.
- Cause: The family is destitute. Effects: Shell's siblings have to do without proper medical care, warm clothes, and store-bought Christmas presents. Dad, in desperation, collects money for charity and keeps some back for himself, hiding the money in the top of the piano.
- Cause: Shell "goes with" a local boy named Declan Ronan. Effect: Her "curse" doesn't come. Months pass before she realizes she's pregnant.
- Cause: A young priest--Father Rose--moves into town. Effect: Shell feels sure that the priest is Jesus. She suddenly begins to see visions of her dead "mam."
Read to discover what happens to Shell and the baby. (Declan, unaware he is a father, has left for America.) A Swift Pure Cry, although fiction, was inspired by a true story. I loved Dowd's description of southern Ireland. I could see the starkness of the landscape, feel the cool mist, and hear the haunting cry of the birds.