In this touching and deceptively homely novel, a jaunty, eleven-year-old Catholic girl--the reminiscing narrator--gradually learns to accept the situation in 1945 Northern Ireland: Catholic and Protestant neighbors fenced off from one another by a clumsy snarl of myth, rage, and deep loyalties, Jennifer Marshall lives with Grandmother, a feisty being who declares that the troubles of this first postwar year ""started hundreds of years ago when the first Englishman set his gout-ridden toe in Ireland."" But their home is in a mainly Protestant enclave--so Jennifer's best friend is Bobble McConnell, whom she plays with even while joining in a t'isn't-t'ain't shouting match of Protestant/Catholic insults. And she even comes to resent Grandmother--who refuses to put out Union Jack bunting with everyone else for the Victory party. Indeed, Jennifer will learn that adults hold grudges a long time; moreover, she herself will suffer inevitable exclusions--forbidden to join the Protestant Girls' Brigade, helping to build a great bonfire with Bobble. . . until she learns that it's to ""burn the Pope."" Eventually, then, Jennifer cracks the adult code of ""belonging""--witnessing tragedies, provocations, arrests, compassionate lies (a suicide declared an accident so a distraught mother might rest in hallowed ground). And ultimately love and allegiance to Grandmother, who ""made a hundred-year-old grievance personal,"" bring the girl to a vow of loyalty: ""God help me, but I belonged."" Richly peopled with warmly believable characters--a moving view of both the savage and loving faces of clan solidarity.