Select one of the keywords
Nory Ryan's Song    by Patricia Reilly Giff order for
Nory Ryan's Song
by Patricia Reilly Giff
Order:  USA  Can
Yearling, 2002 (2000)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

It is 1845, and Nory Ryan and her family live in Maidin Bay, Ireland. Life is tough; Nory's mother died shortly after giving birth to her younger brother, Patch, and her father is away most of the year fishing to provide money for the family. But life is also full of love, and the family and their close friends work together to produce a potato crop for food.

Lord Cunningham, the English landlord who owns all of the property around Maidin Bay, wants to remove the people from the land that has been farmed by their families for generations, in order to turn it into sheep grazing pasture. He has made it difficult for the people to survive. Many have left Ireland and sailed to America, searching for a better life. Nory's older sister, Maggie, gets married and leaves for Brooklyn, New York, where many former bay families now reside. A terrible blight attacks the potato crop and the remaining inhabitants are left with meager food supplies. Lord Cunningham takes their chickens, cows, and pigs as down payment for their rent. How will they survive? Will Nory live to see her family reunited in America?

Nory Ryan's Song gives a stark picture of the realities of life during the Irish potato famine. Yet however bleak and desperate things appear, Nory manages to keep a positive outlook. She defies the people who want to repress her, and keeps hope glimmering for the rest of her friends and family. She's a heroine to be admired, and readers will keep turning pages to find out the outcomes of her dilemmas. The supporting characters round out the story, and it is clear that there are more stories left to tell, involving the others as they voyage to America. The sequel, Maggie's Door, released in 2003, allows readers to follow Nory, family and friends on their quest for freedom and new opportunities.

Written for eight to twelve year olds, this book will probably appeal more to the high end of the age range. The themes are real and harrowing, which might disturb younger readers. It would be an excellent book for parents and their children to read together and discuss. Don't shy away from the seemingly depressing plot, because Nory Ryan's Song gives a true picture of hope and perseverance under the most difficult of circumstances.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews