Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan

Title: All We Shall Know
Author: Donal Ryan
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: July 4, 2017
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "Melody Shee is alone and in trouble. At 33 years-old, she finds herself pregnant with the child of a 17 year-old Traveller boy, Martin Toppy, and not by her husband Pat. Melody was teaching Martin to read, but now he's gone, and Pat leaves too, full of rage. She's trying to stay in the moment, but the future is looming, while the past won't let her go.

It's a good thing that she meets Mary Crothery when she does. Mary is a bold young Traveller woman, and she knows more about Melody than she lets on. She might just save Melody's life. Following the nine months of her pregnancy, All We Shall Know unfolds with emotional immediacy in Melody's fierce, funny, and unforgettable voice, as she contends with her choices, past and present."

My Two Cents:

"All We Shall Know" is the story of Melody, a young woman who finds herself pregnant but not by her husband. This sets off a chain of events that will have Melody and everyone around her questioning the way that things are supposed to be. The father of the baby is a teenaged kid from a Traveller family (that Melody has been tutoring). At first, it is hard to see why this happened but as the book unfolds, we see that not everything is the way it seems.

The strong point of this book is really the writing. It is so real and very raw. The book is told from Melody's perspective as she gets further and further along in her pregnancy. We get a lot of insight into her feelings about Pat, her husband, and the marriage that is rapidly unraveling between them. We see how she is hated by his family even though Pat is most definitely not perfect himself. I really liked that the book was told by Melody as it allowed me to get really into the story.

While the writing is good, I did want to know more of the motivations of the characters. What is driving Melody to doing what she does throughout the book? While we get a lot of her perspective, there was a lack of showing what was really driving her. What drives Mary to form the kind of relationship that she forms with Mary? And then there is the ending (I don't want to give anything away so I apologize for my vagueness). The ending is incredibly clean and neat and is very much in stark contrast with the messiness of the rest of the book. It didn't feel realistic and left me wondering.



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