Wednesday 24 September 2014

Review: A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

The Bradleys see the world as a place where miracles are possible, and where nothing is more important than family. This is their story.

It is the story of Ian Bradley—husband, father, math teacher, and Mormon bishop—and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife, Claire, her lonely wait for a sign from God, and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with tragedy.

And it is the story of their children: sixteen-year-old Zippy, experiencing the throes of first love; cynical fourteen-year-old Al, who would rather play soccer than read the Book of Mormon; and seven-year-old Jacob, whose faith is bigger than a mustard seed—probably bigger than a toffee candy, he thinks—and which he’s planning to use to mend his broken family with a miracle.

Intensely moving, unexpectedly funny, and deeply observed, A Song for Issy Bradley explores the outer reaches of doubt and faith, and of a family trying to figure out how to carry on when the innermost workings of their world have broken apart.

Review: I love the blurb for this book, it gives absolutely nothing away! It's going to be a lot harder to give nothing away in my review but I'll give it a go... Firstly, I love any book that teachers me something and this book taught me so much. I knew very little about the Mormon Faith before reading this book, despite doing religious studies as part of my degree) and now I feel I know so much more about the beliefs, the dynamic and the feelings of the Mormon community and so I already love this book for giving that to me. 

The characters are another things I loved bout this book. I don't love any of the characters more than the others, I don't really think I necessarily liked them, but then are so well written and so genuinely portrayed on the page, they feel like real life people who could actually be living next door to me. The structure of the book is that each of them gets a chapter every now and then and you really feel your sympathy switching to whichever character it is you're reading about as the novel progresses. This is an amazing feat of writing and one which I very much admire. This sometimes made me feel a little uncomfortable but I therefore applaud the book for challenging my securities as I read! 

The structure and characters are fantastic but the storyline is also good. It only takes place over a couple of months, I would've liked for it to have spanned a bit of a longer time period but I think that the short amount of time covered means that you do feel that intense relationship with the characters and everything they are going through. The things that actually happen in the book had me laughing and crying, thinking and as I said at the beginning, learning things too, I found it a fairly exhilarating read and yet conforting and emotionally draining in points too-this is clearly something special for tat reason alone! 

I have to say I really found the ending of this book difficult to cope with. The ending becomes just a little bit cryptic and very very dark and I'm still not sure now exactly how it all ended. One side of me interprets the ending one way and the other part of me interprets the complete opposite, I kind of hate that and love that in equal measure. I know I've not talked in great detail abut anything that went on in this book but that's because I really don't want to spoil it for you whe you come to read it. This is anything but a light read but something I really did enjoy, don't let the religious aspect out you off, it really isn't shoved down your throat at any point in this novel, it is very much character driven and very much something to be enjoyed and savoured. 

1 comment:

  1. I just finished this book, Catriona, and feel about it much the same as you. It's an absorbing study of grief and family dynamics, and I had a hard time putting it down. I'm mostly writing because I share your view of the ending -- was it hopeful? Tragic? And what would the next chapter bring for this family even if it were as hopeful as I think it is? At the same time as I was relieved that the ending wasn't obvious or corny, I was also a bit frustrated by it. Maybe that's a good thing, because I am beginning to think that more closure would not (strangely enough) have been satisfying.