Monday, October 03, 2016

Ashes of Fiery Weather

Until Goodreads told me so after I finished it, I hadn't noticed that I began reading this book on September 11. The novel is about six generations of an Irish American family, many of whom are firefighters, in Ireland and New York. Although 9/11 is not the focal point of the book, no one who lived in New York, especially firefighter families, was left untouched by that day in 2001. This gave me a proper chill in my bones. Aside from that, this book really moved me in many other ways. The story is told by multiple female narrators, jumping around in time from 1897 to 2012. Only one of the narrators, Annie-Rose, the first generation born in the US and the earliest generation to speak in the book, is given a first person narration. I'm not sure why that is, and I'd like to ask the author that question. Maybe because Annie-Rose was the first true Irish-American in the family, and everyone else's voices were made possible by her? I don't know, and I suppose it doesn't matter, because we are still given peeks into multiple family members' lives and are privy to so many motivations and struggles. A firefighter's family lives always under the shadow of tragedy, and the Devlin-Keegan-O'Neill family is no exception. They deal with loss repeatedly, and we grieve with them. There are good moments too, and we see how resilient and strong and supportive large families can be. This is my favorite kind of book, because it reveals patterns in families that are very hard to see when you're on the inside of your own family. Reading a book like this makes me feel more empathy for people who are coming from a different place than I am. And aren't we all coming from different places? Well done, Kathleen Donohoe!

No comments: