MacLaverty, Bernard "Cal" - 1983
A difficult book to read. Not because it has been written in a weird way or because it has difficult words in it. Just the topic. The problem in Northern Ireland. Catholics against Protestants. Brother against brother. Father against son. Anyone can be your enemy.
What a sad story, what a sad history. Is there a solution? If they will ever find it, there is nothing in this book that gives us hope. And if it did, it wouldn't be as authentic as it is.
The author gives you the feeling that the characters are trapped in their life, in their environment, in their role in society. There is no hope for a young boy in Belfast, he gets no decent education and he doesn't get a job even if he had a decent education.
Cal tries his best to get out of this. He even works as a farmhand although he has no experience with working on a farm, he probably hasn't been on a farm before he gets hired. And then there is his love for a young widow. Not exactly an easy life. But what do you do when you have no choice?
If you like to read about different kind of history, like to understand what people are going through, this is the book for you. It was written about thirty years ago but it still feels as true as it did at that time. Bernard MacLaverty manages to put the whole conflict in this rather short (160 pages) book
From the back cover:
"For Cal, some of the choices are devastatingly simple... He can work in an abattoir that nauseates him or join the dole queue; he can brood on his past or plan a future with Marcella. Springing out of the fear and violence of Ulster, Cal is a haunting love story in a land were tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark."