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Map of Ireland

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
In 1974, when Ann Ahern begins her junior year of high school, South Boston is in crisis -- Catholic mothers are blockading buses to keep Black children from the public schools, and teenagers are raising havoc in the streets. Ann, an outsider in her own Irish-American community, is infatuated with her beautiful French teacher, Mademoiselle Eugenie, who hails from Paris but ...more
Hardcover, 197 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Scribner (first published 2008)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Set during the desegregation of Boston's public schools, when buses sent white kids to "black" schools and black kids to "white" schools, Map of Ireland is the story of an Irish-American living in the very Irish neighbourhood of South Boston, who loves to set fires and whose colouring of red hair, white skin and freckles is called a "map of Ireland".

Ann Ahern is sixteen. It's 1974 and she observes with little opinion the white Catholic mothers throwing stones at buses of black children. She's mo
Aug 20, 2008 MRM rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Bundy
Aug 13, 2013 Kathryn Bundy rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
There are things I really like about this book --- its honesty, grittiness, the consistent voice of a questioning, confused teenager. There are other things that I had trouble with --- cultural assumptions not shared with the reader, some flat, unavailable characters, the cluelessness of the main character at times when it would seem she should have been learning or observing more keenly.

I think what struck me most was the underlying theme of white privilege. That speaks to the cluelessness, so
Oct 23, 2007 Mary rated it it was amazing
Painful, cleanly written story of a 16-year-old Irish-American kid from Southie, and her inner and outer struggles in 1974 Boston against the people her people fear, and her people themselves. She smacks into the discomfort of deeply inculturated racism as it seeps into her home life and her attempts to understand and realize her own unspooling sexuality. Cliche free, no easy answers, beautifully written.

(Full disclosure: I know the author, who also wrote The Passion of Alice.)
May 15, 2008 Katherine rated it liked it
This novel is a well drawn character sketch of a young girl dealing with trying times for herself and for the community around her, South Boston during desegregation. The novel felt a bit like a first novel - a story the author had to tell before moving on to something else. I was intrigued, and I found it very well written - sharp, not a word in excess, but I didn't fall in love with either the character or the book. All in all, a worthwhile excursion with a new author.
Lesley Potts
Jan 11, 2015 Lesley Potts rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This should have been a short story. In the end, I felt like it was going nowhere, so I left the protagonist stranded somewhere on the coast... I never felt like the characters developed enough for me to care about what happened to them. Several of them had the potential to be really interesting.
Apr 13, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
This is decent coming of age novel set in south Boston in 1974. It has more YA than adult appeal, I think, and deals with the topics class, race, and sexuality in
(somewhat) interesting and accessible ways.
Mar 17, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jacq, Poppy
Recommended to Holly by: Amelie
Shelves: favorites
This book blew me away.
Jan 11, 2015 KJ rated it really liked it
The ending was entirely unsatisfying, because it was not at all what I wanted.

But it was realistic. More than that, it's what would have happened in this imperfect world. Sometimes, the protagonist does not learn her lesson in the course of 197 pages, but she might get a little bit closer to understanding. Just the tiniest bit.

Ann Ahearn is a frustrating protagonist - she is crafted perfectly to represent the racist Irish Catholic of 1970s Boston. As an Irish Catholic Bostonian in the 2010s, I
Paul Pessolano
Feb 09, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
The story, although fictional, is based kon the racial upheaval that took place in Boston in the 1970's. The story is built around a young Irish Catholic girl, Ann Ahern, who lives in South Boston. Ann is coming into her own as a young lady and is facing the many questions that all of us have faced during this period in our lives.

Although she is Catholic, she has come to the realization that she does not believe in a God, but maintains a facade for her mother. She is also faced with her own sexu
Apr 12, 2008 Betsy rated it really liked it
Stephanie Grant has created a flawed and quite believable character in Ann Ahern whose world of 1974 South Boston erupts when black students begin to be bused in from neighboring predominantly Black area of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. Ann has always been an outsider in her own community. Having acknowledged her lesbianism, she is ostracized and beat up on a regular basis by classmates and even her older brother. Through all of this somehow her Irish Catholic mother has never learned about her sex ...more
Ann Ahern is 16 and living in South Boston. Her pale skin, blue eyes, red hair and freckles are as clear an indication of her Irish heritage as a map of Ireland. Ann explains how she came to be serving a 20-month sentence for burning down the house of a friend. It happens when she was only just beginning to learn about the fires of passion; she gets a crush on her Senegalese French teacher, Madmoiselle Eugenie, and falls in love with Rochelle, a Black teammate on her basketball team.

The fact tha
Jun 15, 2009 Rebecca rated it liked it
This author spoke at the library where I work a couple of years back, which is when I bought the book (and she signed it). Her reading and discussion of the book were very compelling at the time, but then I just never got around to picking this up until now. It was a good, quick read; I liked the narrator character. This is the second book I've read in the past year or so that was set in South Boston during the 1970s and the busing/desegregation crisis in the schools, though this was fiction and ...more
Tori Rickard
May 19, 2013 Tori Rickard rated it liked it
In Maps of Ireland I found I enjoyed quite a few areas of her book where difficult topics were addressed, including some pointed and complex characterizations (especially of Ann's mother). But I was almost disappointed about the ending. Ann proves that she can't rise above the influence of her predominately white Irish community, even though her lesbianism has cast her out of its inner embrace. I was disappointed with the book itself after reading through Ann's final disheartening acts, but on r ...more
Aug 17, 2010 Katie rated it liked it
Map of Ireland is a very slim volume concerning race relations in the 1970′s. That’s the simple overarching theme, but of course it is all much more complex than that. You have a tom-boy lesbian who is struggling with her sexuality, her pyromania, and her fascination with black people (she is white). Of course all kinds of tension are present and our heroine Ann just kind of goes for it.

Ann grabs on to life whenever the opportunity presents itself. She’s Irish-American and lives in Boston, but s
Lisa Houlihan
15-2017 Book Riot Read Harder challenge: Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Set against the conflict over busing to integrate schools in the mid '70s, the book throws all that over for its protagonist's individual struggle. Which I guess is exactly right for an adolescent, generally the most likely of anyone to be the center of the universe -- which I state well aware of the post in my own eye -- but it does mean that the author drops half the issue she started
Set in Boston in the early 70s, this is the story of a city torn apart by racial hatred exasperated by newly introduced school desegregation, and of a white teen struggling with racism, her sexuality, her crush on her Senegalese French teacher, and her sexual initiation with one of the black girls on her basketball team.

Ann wants to think that she can at least be friends with her teammate, if not girlfriends, but an episode of racial violence directed at her French teacher, in which she could na
I spent much of this book wincing at the assumptions and racism present in the situations the characters were enmeshed in. That sort of awkwardness and discomfort can be extremely appealing when much of our world is sugar-coated and pc-ified. For a first novel, I thought the author did an excellent job of having a main character who grew up, but not so much that I was disbelieving of everything she said and thought. At times I did wish it wasn't so much first person pov because I wonder if havin ...more
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Hmmmm. Sometimes you read a book and then you're not quite sure what you think of it. I know I really liked this adult novel. And it sure tackles a lot of issues in its little package. Ann is an Irish girl growing up in the Boston slums in 1974. The schools just started busing and now there are blacks invading her basketball team, her faculty, and her mind. Ann is a lesbian, we learn that at the beginning, and she has quite the crush on her African French teacher. And then Rochelle, one of the n ...more
Jun 16, 2016 Jenna rated it liked it
A rather dream-like, and, at times, nightmarish glimpse into a teen's head during the 1970s. I found it difficult to keep up with Ann's narration and often had to reread sentences in order for it to make sense. Likewise, all of the French phrases went right over my head, and I wish Ann had understood more of he language so we would be able to as well. Having said that, the writing was also lyrical and flowed wonderfully at other times.

I wouldn't call this a romance, but more the emotional, cult
A moving little book (under 200 pages) about South Boston in the 1970s and what it means to not fit in. Set against the racial upheaval of that time period, when the first Black students were bused into Southie schools (and white students bused into Roxbury), Grant's first person narrative really gets you into the mind of Ann Ahern, a poor Irish-American student who likes girls (in the way that gets you beat up in this tough, working-class neighborhood) and has to play basketball with the first ...more
Jul 28, 2008 Aileen rated it liked it
A look at the reactions to bussing in S.Boston from the perspective of a Southie girl trying to make sense of the rampant racism she sees all around her. She is fascinated by her French teacher who is there on an exchange program. The school is shocked that this teacher's native home is Senegal - not quite what they expected for their white teaching staff. The narrator, Ann Ahern, is struggling within this community that shuns her for being a lesbian. Interesting characters in this brief but pow ...more
Apr 08, 2008 Kristen rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved that it was set in 1970's South Boston, so I recognized landmarks, street names, and local history. It was chock-full of teenager stuff - angst, fighting with siblings and parents, trying to figure out your place in the social scene, racial and sexual identity development... so good. It was set during the first year of public school busing in Boston, and since I teach at a school where students from Boston are bussed in from K-12, I had a lot to reflect up ...more
Feb 17, 2009 P. rated it really liked it
Shelves: yyay
Some books with a teenage narrator have an authentic voice because they are written the way most teens actually write--driven by energy, all over the place, and (in a good way) plain. Getting to the point, despite digressions. And some books with a teenage narrator have an authentic voice because they are crafted to express all the thoughts that we have but don't always express. They could be called "writerly" if that term lost its faintly musty tone. I like both kinds. Map of Ireland is of the ...more
Aug 10, 2008 Joanie rated it really liked it
This was a quick read about a girl growing up during the busing riots in South Boston in the 70's. In her Irish Catholic community, Ann is an outcast for being a lesbian. Things get more complicated for her when she develops a crush on a Black French teacher who is teaching in Southie as part of an exchange program. The book does a good job of examining the different reasons why people are ostsracized and just how they struggle to fit in.
Anna Lenau
Apr 13, 2013 Anna Lenau rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
This book is intense! Watch out for the use of certain words, this is a story set during the Civil Rights movement. Whether it's earned or not, I'm still trying to figure out. But Grant's writing is spot on, amazing. She tackles really difficult and complex issues of race and class and she's really done her homework. She did a lot of research in writing this novel and it shows. And it's a complex queer story, and totally sexy! Loved it.
Apr 17, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-books
An Irish teenage lesbian pyromaniac from the South of Boston in 1974 is forced to choose between her community's racist culture and the strong romantic feelings she has for a black female classmate. An introspective read that would have garnered another star from me had the author incorporated more historical information into the story. However, the main character's lonely, intense descriptions of her confusing sexual feelings were painfully well done, if sometimes hard to read.
May 29, 2008 Seana rated it it was ok
The title of this book is misleading as it has nothing to do with Ireland - or maps for that matter (I understand it's a metaphor for the main characters freckles/heritage or whatever, but it's really random). I probably would have enjoyed this if I were a lesbian but since i'm not I couldn't really identify with anything that was happening. This would work better as a short story in a anthology of some sort about South Boston during the turbulent busing years.
Aug 26, 2008 Ermccabe rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Boston people
Recommended to Ermccabe by: Kristen Leary
Interesting book about a teenage girl from South Boston during the city's busing crisis in the early 1970's, she is honest about her feeelings about Blacks and the Whites in her neighborhood, the voice of the character is spot on! She also has a teenage coming to age about her sexuality, I thought it was a little forced at times when the story of acceptance of blacks and those with differences may have strengthened the book
Jan 28, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
Favorite passage from book, "At last, when I was able to see, her face was so close to mine, there was only half a mouth, a single eye - wild, brimming, intent on something. I glimpsed, underneath her chin, a slice of collar bone. If you really loved a girl, I had thought, you didn't think of her in pieces, you thought of her as a whole. But I'd been wrong. Wrong."
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Stephanie Grant’s first novel, The Passion of Alice, was published in 1995 by Houghton Mifflin, and was nominated for Britain’s Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and the Lambda Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. Map of Ireland, which was published by Scribner in March 2008, is a contemporary retelling of Huck Finn that places female sexuality and friendship at the center of one of our foundational m ...more
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“At first when you're learning a foreign language, what seems strange is that a different set of words exists for the things you know. But then, after a while, what seems strange is that so many words are the same, that two entirely different peoples, an ocean apart, would choose the exact same sounds. In the end, what causes the most trouble are the words that sound the same but mean different things: déception, nostalgie, grâce.” 1 likes
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