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Map of Ireland: A Novel


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Edgy and erotic, Grant's second novel (after The Passion of Alice) runs a complex story of urban racial conflict through a YA-feeling filter. The year is 1974, and 16-year-old Ann Ahern has a crush on her French teacher, the Senegalese Mademoiselle Eugenie. It is not the gender of her crush that troubles Ann-she has long known she likes girls-but rather the color of Mademoiselle's skin. The backdrop of Ann's adolescence is the desegregation of south Boston public schools, and the sight of black faces in her school fills her with equal parts resentment and lust; her response to this confusion takes the form of a light pyromania, and as racial strife worsens, it is clear that Ann has wandered into a conflict between the Black Panthers and several racist groups. When a gang of white kids torch Mademoiselle Eugenie's car, Ann embarks on an adventure that awakens her conscience and sexual identity. Grant is most successful in depicting Ann's internal coming-of-age, but the world outside Ann's head is frequently elusive, and her final acting out may crush any sympathy readers feel toward her. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

""Map of Ireland" is one of those novels that unexpectedly fell into my lap and I was immediately hooked. I could not put this book down. Riveting, clear-eyed, brutally honest, Grant's story draws us into the Boston racial crisis brought to a head during the busing campaigns in the seventies. In the midst of this struggle, out steps Ann Ahern -- one of the most disarming, haunted, and gorgeously conflicted narrators to come along in years. You will love this girl. Ann Ahern will charm you; disarm you. She will enrage you, but she will never let you go." -- Alison Smith, author of "Name All the Animals"

Grant, whose The Passion of Alice was long-listed for the Orange Prize and was a finalist for the Lambda Award, here tells the story of Ann, a white Irish Catholic teen living in South Boston. With integration just beginning in "Southie" schools in 1974, Ann develops a crush on her black French teacher, Mademoiselle Eugenie. She also falls in love with Rochelle, a smart-mouthed black girl and family friend of Mademoiselle Eugenie. Her love for Rochelle and admiration for her teacher lead her to an impossible choice: turn in her brother to the police for burning Eugenie's car or stay quiet and lose Rochelle. The double burden of same-sex and interracial love in a very prejudiced time and place causes great confusion for both Ann and Rochelle, and Ann ultimately erupts in a fiery act of destruction. The book's political climate is well portrayed, with extremists on both sides making life difficult for those trying to get beyond the racial divide. Recommended for medium and larger public libraries.--Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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