Friday, April 6, 2018

The Accident Season

The Accident Season
by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Recommended Ages: 13+

October is upon them, and for Cara's family that means all the sharp corners in the house have to be padded, and everybody has to wear extra layers of padding. The family has a tradition of getting cuts and scrapes during the tenth month - their "accident season" - such as older sister Alice's concussion after falling down the stairs, ex-stepbrother Sam's bloody nose from being hit with a soccer ball, and that time a wooden pedestrian bridge collapses under Cara and leaves her wading across a stream.

In this mash-up of teen romance, family drama, mystery and magical realism set in County Cork, Ireland, the latest accident season challenges Cara to confront family secrets she has been willfully keeping from herself. It starts with her realization that a girl from school, who used to be her friend, has disappeared and nobody seems to have a clear memory of her. Elsie, who operates an art installation involving secrets that students type up and stuff into a box in the school library, stops showing up for school around the time Cara notices that Elsie is in every one of her photographs - at least part of her, cut off on the edge of the frame. As Cara digs deeper, trying to find out what happened to Elsie and why she seems to be following her family around, other secrets float to the surface that challenge everything she believes about herself and her loved ones.

This is a spooky book, a richly atmospheric book, a sometimes funny and often touching book, and a book with some material that obliges me to stick an Occult Content Advisory on it, as well as an Adult Content ditto. But I'm not trying to discourage anyone of a teenage persuasion or older from reading it; in fact, some of the adult stuff in it is the kind of adult stuff that kids should be aware of and know how to talk about. Maybe what I want to say is that this book could do a lot of good for kids whose family lives include secrets they have a hard time admitting to others, or even to themselves. The kids in this book are, morally and spiritually, very much teens of today, and Christian parents may not like them much as role models for their children. But Christian parents, by now, are pretty used to holding their nose and plunging into risky material, since the alternative may be to have nothing to talk with their kids about. And I think when they talk about this book, they will have an entertaining discussion painlessly, repeat painlessly laced with an important message.

Since this debut novel, Fowley-Doyle has also published Spellbook of the Lost and Found.

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