Fiction Paperbacks Maude Casey Over the Water

ISBN 13: 9780140375893

Over the Water

3.32 avg rating
( 63 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780140375893: Over the Water

Fourteen-year-old Mary feels like a misfit, both in England where she and her family live and in their former Ireland home, until a visit to her Irish relatives helps her gain a better understanding of her background, her mother, and herself.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

In a passionately vivid first novel, Casey re-creates her own experience of seeking an identity while growing up Irish in England. Fourteen-year-old Mary and her family are tense and unhappy in London, where they currently live out of economic necessity. Volatile Mammy has lost all patience with daughter Mary, who--though head of her class--rebels at the strictures of parents who counter anti-Irish prejudice with their own rigid standards. When the family makes their first visit home to Kilkenny since Mammy's father's death, Mammy's demands are as harsh as ever, and she forbids the grieving Mary to go near the horses that Mary loves as her grandfather did. Granny and sympathetic aunt Nuala are some comfort; still, after Mary is severely beaten without being allowed to explain offenses that are only partly her fault, she is so overcome with a sense of isolation and of the inevitability of death that she withdraws completely. Details of Irish farm life are as beautifully observed and lyrically rendered as Mary's troubled emotions; a poignant, exquisitely written scene when Granny confides her own grief while Mary helps prepare a meal is one of many offering rich insights into these diverse characters. The earthier details of farm life add texture to the portrayal of a people close to a heritage of foreign repression and bare subsistence; quick to anger, they also know the kind of unbridled sport and healing laughter that bring Mary and her mother closer during a harvest festival at the end. A wonderful, resonant story. Glossary. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Gr. 7-12. "We live in England, but." From the first sentence, this remarkable novel hurls you into teenage Mary O'Relly's conflict and her search for home. Lonely and defiant, she belongs neither in London, where she lives, nor in Ireland, from where her parents were driven by hunger and poverty. As they return across the sea for their annual summer visit to the family farm, Mary's frenzy focuses on her controlling mother, who never touches Mary except to slap her and makes her daughter feel angry and ashamed.

The conflict is more interesting than the resolution: Mary's rite of passage on the farm (from restlessness to depression to joyful recovery and celebration of her proud Irish heritage) seems staged. She's too articulate about it ("I do not have to be a victim of circumstance"), and it's too complete. The focus is on the women in the story: Mary's mentors are her aunt and grandmother, and as in Tan's The Joy Luck Club (1989), the rebellious teenager comes to understand her mother as a person who was wrenched from home. Unlike Tan's characters, though, Mary and her mother suddenly stop driving each other crazy and are sweetly reconciled.

What holds you is the beautiful precision and physicality of the writing: the "sharp splinters of irritability" in family relationships, and also the elemental rhythms of farmwork, backbreaking and joyful. The final pastoral idyll, when the whole extended family and community works together to bring in the hay before they must part and leave, says everything about Ireland's sorrow and loss. Hazel Rochman

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Maude Casey
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ISBN 10: 0140375899 ISBN 13: 9780140375893
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