Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ONE BELFAST BOY by Patricia McMahon


by Patricia McMahon

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-68620-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

It’s hard for most US readers to imagine what it is like to grow up amid ongoing violence, but that is what Liam’s life has been in Belfast. However, this 11-year-old’s family life, school, and dreams will be known to children everywhere. After providing an overview of “the Troubles,” McMahon movingly describes the conditions of Liam’s existence: a Catholic, he has never known a Protestant—“peace walls” separate the Catholic and Protestant sections of Belfast. On his way to school, Liam passes buildings with large messages painted on them: “Brits Out,” or “No Surrender.” Family and school conversations often include passing references to a bomb going off. O’Connor’s full-color photographs show all the aspects of Liam’s life, including his training for a boxing match; the boy loses, but rather than believe that the judges ruled against him because of where he’s from, he quotes a rule he has learned—“We win, or we lose. Then we go on.” This book provides a realistic glimpse of a place where peace has taken a fragile hold, and offers a reminder that the dreams of children can flourish amid misery. (map) (Nonfiction. 7-12)