Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"The studying, the books, exams, arguments, theories. The jokes and pints, laughter, kisses and songs. Life was like running, ninety percent sweat and toil, ten per cent joy. "

Bog Child

Carnegie winner: 2009
Author: Siobhan Dowd

Set in Ireland, past and present are brought into vivid contrast when Uncle Tally and Fergus uncover the body of a girl when digging for peat.  As they unearth the girl, so too a history of past troubles, fears and hatreds is brought to light, showcasing the influences each is able to wield on individuals, families, communities and countries. 

Defying easy classification, the book is part mystery as readers and Fergus himself try to determine the background, death and assumed murder of the girl in the peat; part coming-of-age novel as Fergus grapples with his own maturation and the growing responsibilities and feelings he experiences; part social comment around the conflict that mars the lives and landscape of those living in Northern Ireland.  Fergus’ life is growing in complexity and finds himself needing to negotiate through all manner of family relationships and a growing interest in Cora, the daughter of an archaelogist.

Based in Northern Ireland, the political backdrop for the novel is taut with a looming, oppressive tension that is palpable.  This turmoil affects Fergus directly as his brother Joe has been imprisoned and is on hunger strike following his involvement with the Irish Republican Army.  He has been caught in the affray of the riots the group has led, swept along by a tide of wanting and needing to see change take root in his country.

Achingly beautiful lyrical writing brings the past and present into union and shows how history is and can be so much more than abject dates and events, but rather stories whose span stretches over lives and many lifetimes.



Why we chose this book ...

"It's a powerful, beautifully written read set in Northern Ireland. A study of history and conflict and growing up in the 1980s wrapped within an archaeological mystery, it's an important, memorable book."