Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Second Life

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Description from Goodreads:
Following a car crash, for several seconds, Dublin photographer Sean Blake is clinically dead. When he plummets back to life, it is into a world which, for him, has profoundly changed. This is not the first time that he has been given a second life. At the age of six weeks he was taken from his mother, when as a young girl in rural Ireland, she was forced to give up her baby for adoption. Beginning the quest for his own identity, Sean determines to find his natural mother. This leads him on a strange and absorbing journey. Bolger exposes a dark wound from Ireland's history to explore how we must not only reclaim the past but try to redeem it. As Sean closes in on the truth of his birth, A Second Life builds with a resonance that is both through-provoking and utterly moving.

My Take:
Until I read this book, I was not very aware of this particular aspect of Irish history.  I think I was vaguely aware of the fact that there were homes run by nuns for unwed mothers and that the children were taken from the young mothers and given out for adoption.  I am sure this was entirely due to other books I have read.  After reading A Second Life, I plan to do further reading and to see the movie The Magdalene Sisters which attempts to shed light on these "fallen" women and their lives within the "laundries".

A Second Life examines the aftermath of Sean Blake's near death experience and his coming to grips with having been adopted. The other narrative in the novel is that of his birth mother - who never forgot her son and was always hoping he would try to find her.  Being forced to give up her baby had a devastating effect on her life and she never really recovered. This is a heart breaking story, but it was a fascinating read.

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