Billy Gogan, American
Fifteen-year-old Billy Gogan, a Dubliner in Irish history’s hellacious An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) of the 1840s, is ever so alone in the world, fleeing from starvation, oppression, and dangers that lurk everywhere in his bleak surroundings. He leaves for America on the precarious tall ship On a Stormy Sea that crosses the Atlantic to New York and Gotham City’s Five Points slums where he makes treacherous connections with the graft and political corruption of “Boss” Tweed’s Tammany Hall.
Billy’s story is rich in absorbing descriptive Dickensian characters and daunting experiences of survival, chance, and strength of human spirit . . . “Ta mór a hheanam” (give me strength). If you’re interested in nautical history, this tale will pique your interest, too. In the genre of Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea and Peter Behrens’ Law of Dreams, this compelling immigration saga continues with a sequel Billy Grogan: Gone Fer Soldier. By the by, at the start of the book, the author, Roger Higgins, offers a terrific glossary of Irish terms which I found very helpful in furthering my understanding of Irish culture. I suggest viewing Higgins’ website, truly worthwhile, as well.
All you b’hoys and g’hals should have a great read with this one!
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Review by Carol McFadden, Children’s Services