Thursday, 21 August 2014

Guest Book Review: Caroline Finnerty - Into the Night Sky

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Conor Fahy, owner of a struggling bookshop, is finding it hard to cope in the aftermath of his partner Leni’s tragic death. His friend Ella Wilde tries to be supportive but is herself in a fragile mental state – she has just been axed from her job as a TV presenter, having been caught shoplifting.

Then eight-year-old Jack White walks into Conor’s bookshop and settles down on the floor to read. Jack likes Ben 10, Giant Jawbreakers and Ronaldo. He likes his dad (when he doesn’t shout) but he doesn’t like the bad bugs that are eating up his ma inside her tummy.

Conor listens to the talkative boy but finds it hard to piece together what is really happening in his life. He is particularly mystified by Jack’s intense resentment of a woman called Rachel Traynor, not realising that she is a social worker assigned to Jack’s case and that Jack’s fate hangs in the balance.

They must each learn the healing power of love, and the need to let the past go and turn to the future.

Amazon link: Kindle or Paperback

Into the Night Sky is the third novel from Caroline Finnerty, and in my mind her best yet. Hopefully this new release will bring her to the attention of many new readers as it’s a book that deserves to be read by many. Perfect for curling up with on the couch and getting lost in the lives of Conor, Jack and co as the nights grow darker. This is a moving, emotional, life affirming but also at times heartbreaking novel so make sure to have plenty of tissues at hand when reading. 

The story focuses on four main characters living in Dublin, each struggling with their own problems whilst trying to put a determined face on. Slowly as the novel unfurls we see the connection between all four people and how meeting each other will help them at a time when friendship and support is needed the most.

Ella Wilde appears to have it all - a successful T.V presenter, married with three beautiful children and living in a fabulous restored tower near the Dublin coast. But as we all know appearances can be deceptive and inside Ella is overwhelmed and struggling to cope with her work and family life. Ella cannot explain the way she is feeling or why these emotions are bubbling to the surface but all this leads her to do something which shocks her family and the general public. She steals an expensive handbag and bracelet from an upmarket designer store, being in the public eye she is made an example of and the threat of a court appearance hangs over her. Ella’s actions cause massive upset within her family - her husband is disgusted and looks upon her with shame and her children become isolated at school. I really didn’t like Ella for most of this book, I just couldn’t warm to her despite having a sneaking suspicion of what was wrong - which I only had half right. I felt she needed to snap out of it and get on with fixing her problems instead of moping around the house feeling sorry for herself while her family was slowly starting to fall apart. Only when we find out the true reason for Ella’s behaviour did I finally feel any sympathy for her. I looked upon her in a whole new light and then realised she was an awfully strong person to keep everything bottled up for so long.

Conor Fahy is the owner of a bookshop at a time when the recession has hit Ireland hard. He is barely managing to keep the bookshop afloat whilst trying to deal with the death of his beloved partner Leni. Into the bookshop one day walks Jack White a young boy who is also dealing with problems at home with his mum who ‘likes to sleep alot’. Conor is suspicious of Jack at first , he just presumes he is another thug who wants to torment him and cause trouble in his shop. But soon the most unlikely of friendships starts to form as Conor and Jack slowly reveal their troubles layer by layer. Jack is definitely the breakout star of this book and I think he was my favourite character because I felt the most for what he was going through. He was so innocent in some ways but unfortunately had to grow up pretty fast in order to deal with the harsh realities facing him.

Rachel Traynor is the case worker assigned to Jack. She desperately wants to commit to a long term relationship with her boyfriend Marcus but there is one hurdle standing in their way. Rachel was a character I never really warmed to, yes she had an important role to play in helping Jack but I just felt her storyline was slightly weaker than the others so I wasn’t as eager to read about what she was going through. 

This was a really satisfying read with beautiful writing, certain parts were hard to read but that is the sign of a good author making the reader go through so many emotions. I lost several hours riveted to this story and didn’t want it to end, with plenty of life lessons to be learned and a dash of humour thrown in courtesy of Jack and Dot (Ella’s middle child who inhabits a fairytale world all of her own). My only wish is that someday Caroline may return to the character of Jack in a future book as I would love to know how life turned out for him in the future.

Many thanks to Poolbeg for sending me an e-copy for review.

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