Writers Reading: The Carnival at Bray

Book Cover

My current read is the first novel by author Jessie Ann Foley, The Carnival at Bray. I was not expecting how much I would get lost in this adventure, seeing as I moved away from young adult fiction more than few years ago. However, Foley creates an experience I never would have gotten, and in the midst of it all, I became emotionally connected to main character, Maggie.

After being ripped from her life in Chicago to Ireland by her hopeless romantic mother, she goes through a string of rough patches and tragic losses. At one point she becomes so frustrated with the messiness of growing up she asks herself,

Wasn’t it just a succession of actions and incidents where you break your childhood promises to yourself and do the very things you always said you wouldn’t do? And how many more promises would she have to break before she came out on the other side?”

The rest of the novel is an exploration and coming of age experience for Maggie where she does have to break some promises and hurt some feelings because she chooses to live instead of letting others choose for her. Foley brings real life into this journey by bringing up these complications of growing up, sexuality, and self-acceptance.

Music also plays a large role as the reader is taken back to the early 90s when grunge rock is the “it thing.” Bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana are large influences throughout the story with Kurt Cobain coming in as a central figure. The Carnival at Bray is a very mature and enjoyable read that takes the reader on a stimulating and emotional ride. Keep an eye out for my full review of this book coming next week! The book will be available for purchase in October 2014.