This aint no beach read.
I know you're supposed to read lighter stories in the summertime. Books where you can doze off between the pages; pages that get soaked on the corners from the pool or the sunscreen.
This is not. that.
I've thought about reading this for awhile now. Emma Donaghue's book Room shook me to my core and I wanted more of this genius author inside my brain. But, for some reason, I always put it back on the shelf. Maybe I didn't want to be shaken.
When this was actually available at my small neighborhood library, I figured it was time.
The premise of the book is that a nurse comes to care for a little girl in Ireland who is attracting attention and visitors for a very simple reason: she hadn't eaten in months. According to local lore, Anna didn't need food anymore. According to Anna, she was existing on the manna of heaven. But, an independent commission thought something else might be at play. They hired the nurse and a nun to keep a two-week watch, trying to either prove the girl was, in fact, some sort of miracle marvel. Or, to prove it was all a hoax.
The nurse is instantly skeptical and spends the first nights of her watch trying to prove the child is sneaking food. Over time, her concern for the girl grows and she tries to convince Anna's family and community that she is at risk. But, can she make her case before it's too late?
I've had a hard time describing this book to people. I don't want to give away what is a pretty extreme twist about 85% of the way through. I'm also having a hard time deciding if I should recommend it. It's extremely well-written, of course. But, this thing is heavy. It starts heavy, it progressively builds and the turn it takes turns your stomach as well.
The book is a commentary on Ireland early in the last century. It's a referendum, of sorts, on faith. And, it makes your blood boil at the way society would choose to ignore extreme dangers and terrible crimes, all because it felt like a family's personal business. It also reminds you that, more than 100 years later, not everything has changed.
I felt like I slogged through this, but I actually read it all in three nights. It kept my attention and built my concern. But, it's definitely not your typical summer read. Put it on your list for, say, late January. It's bleak outside already; maybe you won't notice the gray that covers you when you read it.