OVER THE WATER by Maude Casey


Age Range: 12 & up
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 In a passionately vivid first novel, Casey re-creates her own experience of seeking an identity while growing up Irish in England. Fourteen-year-old Mary and her family are tense and unhappy in London, where they currently live out of economic necessity. Volatile Mammy has lost all patience with daughter Mary, who--though head of her class--rebels at the strictures of parents who counter anti-Irish prejudice with their own rigid standards. When the family makes their first visit home to Kilkenny since Mammy's father's death, Mammy's demands are as harsh as ever, and she forbids the grieving Mary to go near the horses that Mary loves as her grandfather did. Granny and sympathetic aunt Nuala are some comfort; still, after Mary is severely beaten without being allowed to explain offenses that are only partly her fault, she is so overcome with a sense of isolation and of the inevitability of death that she withdraws completely. Details of Irish farm life are as beautifully observed and lyrically rendered as Mary's troubled emotions; a poignant, exquisitely written scene when Granny confides her own grief while Mary helps prepare a meal is one of many offering rich insights into these diverse characters. The earthier details of farm life add texture to the portrayal of a people close to a heritage of foreign repression and bare subsistence; quick to anger, they also know the kind of unbridled sport and healing laughter that bring Mary and her mother closer during a harvest festival at the end. A wonderful, resonant story. Glossary. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8050-3276-2
Page count: 246pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994