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The Island Child

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and sheep’s wool, where the only book was the Bible and girls stayed in their homes until mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 30th 2020 by Canongate Books Ltd.
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Island Child is Molly Aitken’s mesmerising, dark debut and centres around Irish folklore, superstition, secrets, motherhood and the search for identity associated with growing from a child into an adult. It follows Oona from her life growing up on a remote and somewhat desolate island off the Irish coast in the 1960s, where she is suffocated and ruled over by a cold, overbearing mother who is paranoid about letting her daughter out of her sight, to her eventual escape to freedom in Canada. ...more
KitKat The #BookNerd KBbookreviews
The Island Child, by Molly Aitken is a painful and heart-breaking story of motherhood, womandhood, grief and identity.

Synopsis: Oona was born on the Island of Inis, a place steeped in superstition, folk-lore and religion, where men go out to sea in order to bring home food while the women stay home to cook, clean and raise their children. On a small island where everybody knows each other, distrust and rumours spread quickly and conformity is expected.

Twenty years ago, Oona left the island, her
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is an impressive debut novel ticking many of my favourite boxes, not least a setting on a remote Irish island. Oona has a repressed childhood, languishing at home under the watchful eye of a mother who won’t let her out of her sight for fear of…. what? Pretty much everything, but mainly too much freedom to get into trouble. Oona, of course, doesn’t want to marry the boy next door and live the same life as her mother over again. She dreams of escape and she does indeed escape, but under very ...more
rina dunn
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a glorious read this book is!
Steeped in Irish Folklore the prose in this book is stunning!
The story itself is set around Oona a child born on the Island and flits between her as a child and her as a mother.
It looks a lot at Motherhood both the relationship between Oona and her Mother and herself as a Mother to Joyce.
I related in a lot of ways to Oona shes such a free spirit and found her super likeable.
I loved the darkness and myth surrounding this beautiful tale of what it was like to
Ellis (whatellisreadnext)
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'I couldn't put words to the waves that drowned my mind.'
Oona grew up on the Island of Inis, spending most of her childhood wishing to escape. In the present day, she must return to the island and face her demons.
You should read this book. I finished it over a week ago but Oona and her story are still rooted deep inside of me. This one really leaves a mark on the soul, you get so lost in in her life; the trauma she goes through will stay with me for a very long time. The fact that this is
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Mother-daughter relationships, secrets and superstition.

Oona is born into an isolated fishing community on an imaginary island off the coast of Ireland. As a child, she is drawn to Felim, the feral son of outsider and purported witch, Aislinn. His growing resentment of the islanders’ abuse sours his relationship with Oona. She leaves the island, only to find it is not so easy to escape her memories.

This is a world in which men battle the sea to put food on the table, while women tend the home
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

This debut novel by Molly Aitken is a story of women, of mothers, of daughters, of the hardships and difficulties that are presented to them in a time when much of the world was on the cusp of changing, some places were stuck in their traditions.

Those traditions mean a life of quiet and wifely duties for a woman on Inis.

Oona wants more than that, and though she’s our MC, she is not the only woman to have her story told, there is Aisling, the single mother
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
*Thank you to Netgalley and Canongate for my advanced copy of The Island Child*

A dark tale of family secrets woven with Irish folklore. The Island Child spans across the lifetime of Oona, flicking between her younger and adult self. As a child she is extremely restricted at home with her emotionless and religious mother. We see her exploring relationships, teaching herself about life and yearning for freedom. The lack of support and want in her own home leads to her becoming a distant and lone
Christina Reid
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was very excited to read this and it did not disappoint! The story is told through a mixture of references to old folktales, modern-day Oona and flashbacks to her childhood growing up on a remote island. It is a thoughtful, slow novel but this is not a bad thing - rather this enticing slowness draws you further into the story and makes you care about the characters deeply, as well as lulling you into a false sense of security, making some of the events of the story ever more shocking.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
The Island Child tells two stories: of the child who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets, and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape.

It's a slow building book to begin, melancholic and moving, and much darker than initially expected. A tale of island life that never really leaves those involved.
Annette Jordan
The Island Child by Molly Aitken is an impressive and memorable debut. I was initially drawn to the striking cover, the rich colours and stylised imagery caught my eye, and reading the synopsis confirmed the fact that I needed to read this book.
The book tells the story of Oona, moving between her girlhood on a remote island off the coast of Ireland in the 1960's , and her adult life after she leaves the Island and moves to Canada. It is a book rife with superstition, secrets and sadness and I
Raffaella Sero
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Inis, a rocky spit of land off the coast of Ireland, is a place frozen in time, where the men brave the sea to feed their families and the women cook their fish and weave their tales at home. This is the island where Oona was born, and which she longs to leave; “The Island Child” tells the story of her escape and her return.
The novel’s plot, beautiful and entrancing in its bareness, is modelled in part on the Greek myth of Demeter and Kore. Indeed, the only minor sin of the book is perhaps that
Victoria Catherine Wright
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Island Child tells the story of Oona and her family, moving between Oona's childhood spent living on an Irish island, and her later years spent living in Canada as a wife and mother.

Oona's early years are spent under the cold but intense scrutiny of her mother, leaving Oona largely separate from her peers and desperate for human connection. Lonely and traumatised by the things she witnesses and endures throughout her painful childhood, Oona grows up desperate to escape the clutches of her
Jane Healey
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The stitched squares of my past are worn thin, like the fields of the island, leached by time. What a burden I sewed for my child. All my history in each piece of fabric and no words to explain the weight of each scrap or what it means.”

‘The Island Child’ by Molly Aitken swept me up like a thundering wave and didn’t let me go. Reading this felt like I was picking up a favourite childhood tale - a deeply tactile world touched with myth and wild beauty - but with a bruising adult darkness. It’s a
Louise Fein
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many books are labelled ‘stunning’, but here is one which truly is. I was hooked from the opening sentence into this haunting, beautiful story of motherhood and love, right to the poignant end. Molly Aitken writes with such beauty and lyricism, her prose is, in itself, a thing of poetic beauty. The story is wonderfully complex, told across two timelines, around the enigmatic child Oona, growing up on a wild island but trapped and caged by society, religion and superstition, and the adult Oona ...more
Hebridean Reader
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A complex book which describes perfectly the claustrophobia of small island life which is mirred in secrets and destructive rumours. Oona is growing up in a religious home with a woman who she can't identify with and who's shame seeps into every element of her existence, suffocating her and driving her determination to escape. But when she does eventually escape she ends up carrying her past with her and struggling to make any connections past her own trauma.
What Molly Aitken has created her is
Artur Gower
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Do we ever escape our past?

Set in a small Irish island, where the weather and sea are as hard as the people who live on it. We follow Oona from birth to adulthood. She tries to escape here upbringing, which is revealed in stages throughout the book. The book was a very compelling read. As you live through Oona's adult life, you learn more and more about her past, until the two finally collide. The book is somewhat darker then expected, and a very compelling read.
Elza Maria Bitencourt Gower
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing

A beautifully written novel about a girl growing up on an isolated island of the coast of Ireland. It's told in a split narrative and is layered with many mysteries which makes it a pacey read. It's dark but with moments of humour and lightness. The first person voice of Oona is compelling and feels quite unique. I recommend it to everyone who likes pacier literary fiction. I also appreciated the links to folklore and myth. Captivating.
Anne Goodwin
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Growing up on an island off Galway that women rarely left, a girl’s life was inevitably restricted. Confined to a three-room house with an unloving mother, with only two years of uninspiring schooling, Oona’s options are more limited than most. But that doesn’t stop her dreaming. As soon as she’s old enough, she’ll leave.
Full review
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I struggled with this and I cant pinpoint why... there was lots of good content.
An island,a slightly nuts mother,a daughter desperate for some escape.
Family secrets.... island secrets.
I warmed completely to the characters of Enda and Pat,but not so much Oona,and that could be where the trouble lied.
Despite that,the story kept me going to the end,and I'm glad it did.
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Molly Aitken was born in Scotland in 1991 and brought up in Ireland. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa where she won the Janklow and Nesbit Prize.

Molly now lives in Sheffield with her husband.

Follow Molly on twitter at MollyAitken1 and Instagram molly.aitken