David Fickling Books, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Lyn Seippel
ergus McCann and his uncle Tally get up early to dig peat out of the bog. It's barely daylight when Fergus discovers the body of a murdered child. It soon proves not to be a recent murder but one done 2,000 years ago during the Iron Age. Because he found her, Fergus is allowed to name her. He calls her Mel.
s archeologists try to understand how and why the child was killed, Fergus tries to make sense of the world he grew up in. While he is sitting exams, his brother, a political prisoner, is participating in a hunger strike. His dad supports the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein but, with a family of six, he doesn't participate. Uncle Tally is neutral. Fergus is pressured to smuggle sealed packages across the border. He worries that the packages might carry plastic for making bombs.
hile archeologists run tests to determine how Mel died, Fergus dreams about what her life had been like. He also falls for Cora, the daughter of one of the archeologists.
owd has written two wonderful stories. Mel's is a love story. Fergus's is a coming of age story set in 1981 in the northern part of the Irish Republic where the IRA and the consequences of their fighting surround his life like malevolent smog. His world gets larger as he meets people outside his village, but then he faces the possibility that his activities might kill someone he knows or loves.
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