Maura's Angel

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9780140318425: Maura's Angel

It all started with a shattering bang. Maura found herself flat on her face on the pavement. For moments there was nothing, just blackness and silence. But she knew. Once again, a bomb had exploded in the streets of Belfast.

Maura lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her life is hard. Her poor mother, thin and tired, depends on her to care for the baby, get her six-year-old brother off to school, and dress and feed her big sister Colleen, who is as helpless as an infant. Maura's big brother Kieran is in prison for sabotage against the Brits; her father is risking the same, or worse, as a member of the Irish Republican Army. And the war goes on and on. It seems so hopeless.

Then, in the wake of the bomb blast, an amazing thing happens. Maura looks up from the pavement and sees a girl lying next to her who looks just like her--except that she's perfect...Also, she's naked! Maura quickly wraps the girl in her own coat and takes her home.

Who is this strange creature? Where has she come from? She seems to know nothing of the world--not even simple things like how to eat or fall asleep or talk. She doesn't understand pain.

Yet she has a magical way with people. The baby stops crying; quarrels dissolve. Even poor, simple minded Colleen responds to her. Maura's mother smiles again, and their home becomes peaceful and full of exciting moments of magic.

When Maura discovers Angela's secret, she trusts her for the miracle that could bring her father and brother home. But Angela doesn't understand Maura's world-a world that spoils miracles, making them go tragically wrong.

 

It all started with a shattering bang. Maura found herself flat on her face on the pavement. For moments there was nothing, just blackness and silence. But she knew. Once again, a bomb had exploded in the streets of Belfast.

Maura lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her life is hard. Her poor mother, thin and tired, depends on her to care for the baby, get her six-year-old brother off to school, and dress and feed her big sister Colleen, who is as helpless as an infant. Maura's big brother Kieran is in prison for sabotage against the Brits; her father is risking the same, or worse, as a member of the Irish Republican Army. And the war goes on and on. It seems so hopeless.

Then, in the wake of the bomb blast, an amazing thing happens. Maura looks up from the pavement and sees a girl lying next to her who looks just like her--except that she's perfect...Also, she's naked! Maura quickly wraps the girl in her own coat and takes her home.

Who is this strange creature? Where has she come from? She seems to know nothing of the world--not even simple things like how to eat or fall asleep or talk. She doesn't understand pain.

Yet she has a magical way with people. The baby stops crying; quarrels dissolve. Even poor, simple minded Colleen responds to her. Maura's mother smiles again, and their home becomes peaceful and full of exciting moments of magic.

When Maura discovers Angela's secret, she trusts her for the miracle that could bring her father and brother home. But Angela doesn't understand Maura's world-a world that spoils miracles, making them go tragically wrong.

00-01 Keystone to Reading Book Award Masterlist

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lynne Reid Banks is a bestselling author for both children and adults. She grew up in London and became first an actress and then one of the first woman TV reporters in Britain before turning to writing. She now has more than forty books to her credit. Her classic children's novel, The Indian in the Cupboard, has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and was made into a popular feature film. Lynne lives with her husband in Dorset, England.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

THE REASON MAURA fell asleep during school assembly that Thursday morning was because she was honestly tired. And small wonder .,he'd been up half the night with her baby brother Darren.

Her mother had said she couldn't anymore, she just wasn't able. And Maura, looking at her poor, thin, tired face, saw it was true. So she told her ma to go back to bed. She picked Darren up, and walked him, and gave him his bottle of sweet tea, but still he didn't go to sleep for hours.

And she'd had to get up early in the morning to get six-year-old Foley (whose real name was Paul ready for school and take him (it was only round the corner), and then dress her sister Colleen.

Colleen was nineteen, but she couldn't dress her self properly, or do anything else properly, even talk. Maura had got her nicely sat up to table and given her her porridge (heated up from yesterday), and taken her ma a cup of tea in bed, hoping she'd wake up and come down and help. She didn't. She was out like a light. Luckily, the baby was sleeping off his late night, too. When he woke up and started howling, Ma would have to stir herself.

Just as Maura was dashing out the door to catch the bus to school, she heard Colleen's tin dish clatter to the floor . . . She paused, and then, guiltily, ran on, pretending she hadn't heard. It was pointless to feel annoyed with Colleen. She couldn't help it. But Maura couldn't help some things either, such as thinking it was a pity to have wasted the last of the porridge on Colleen only to have her knock it all over the floor. But she felt guilty just the same. She should have stopped to wipe it up! Ma would be in no mood . . .

As she hurried along the short, narrow street where she lived, with its front doors and front windows opening straight on to the pavement, Maura glanced, as she always did, at the words written up on the walls. Most of them had been there for so long that it was surprising she still noticed them, but they held a strange sort of magic for her. She'd got into the habit of reading them every morning, and had a fear (she knew it was silly) that if she missed one day, something bad would happen.

Parts of Belfast, Maura's city, were scrawled all over. Even the mailboxes weren't red anymore, but black and white with paint-writing. It was as if the people who lived here in Northern Ireland were trying to make their feelings known to the world in the only way they felt able to--very angry feelings.

Of course there was plenty of ordinary,-pointless sort of wall-writing, names and so on; but Maura never bothered looking at those. The words that she superstitiously read every time she passed were things like: IT'S NOT YOUR SON BUT WHAT IF IT WAS? and, GIVE THEM THEIR RIGHTS NOT THEIR LAST RITES. These referred to men in prison on hunger-strike.

Still another she always read was SOLDIER GO HOME. She saw that everywhere, not just in her street. Another said, DON'T THINK THE TOUTS WILL STOP US.

This one gave Maura a little shiver--touts were informers, and Maura had good reason to hate them: due to one tout her big brother had been shut away for ten years.

Where her little street turned into the main road, there was something special. The whole end-wall of the last house was one big painting.

Maura had seen it so often it was imprinted on her mind. It showed a young man lying in a prison bed, his rosary in his limp hand; the Virgin Mary stood above him with pools of yellow light falling over him from her halo.

The man's face was spoiled. Someone had come along one night and thrown a whole tin of black paint at it. But Maura remembered it from before. She knew the picture had to do with men going on hunger-strike in the Maze Prison, outside the city.

Kieran, Maura's twenty-one-year-old brother, was a prisoner there, though he had not been part of the hunger-strike (it had happened just before he was taken).

Sometimes she dreamed of Kieran with a black face, like the wall-painting, but more like a photo she'd seen once of a tout who'd been covered with tar for a punishment. She had no pact with herself to look at the picture, and, as it upset her, she didn't. But she always glanced above it to read the words, carefully painted with a brush, not sprayed or scrawled: BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HUNGER FOR JUSTICE.

Maura had lived the whole of her eleven years in a city at war at war with itself It showed. It showed in the stories in the papers and on TV, in the soldiers with their camouflage uniforms and guns patroling the streets, in the things that Maura actually saw and heard sometimes--furious, ugly things. Most of all, perhaps, it showed in the wall-writing and painting.

But Maura wasn't afraid of the signs of violence and anger all round her. She should have been, perhaps, but she wasn't. She was too used to it. She took it for granted, except when something exceptional happened, as it was going to that very day, if Maura had only known it.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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