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The Island Child

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A spellbinding, deeply felt debut novel--soaring and poignant--about passion, freedom, motherhood, and the power to shape our destinies.

Oona grew up on the island of Inis: a wind-blasted rock off the coast of Ireland where the men went out on fishing boats and the women tended turf fires; where the only book was the Bible; and where girls stayed at home until they became
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published January 30th 2020)
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Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Island Child is Molly Aitkens 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  ·  review of another edition
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 wont 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, doesnt 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
Ellis (whatellisreadnext)
'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
rina dunn
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lot different to the books I usually read but I actually really enjoyed it!
Rachel Rowlands
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an early version of this book. The writing is stunning and such a pleasure to experience, and this is a gorgeous, lyrical tale of mothers and daughters, with a vivid Irish backdrop. Oona is raised in a small, remote Irish island, and the story explores how her own upbringing affects her experience of motherhood as an adult after leaving the island, and the search for her own daughter. The exploration of mother-daughter relationships in this book is spot-on, and the ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 and
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 shes our MC, she is not the only woman to have her story told, there is Aisling, the single mother
*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  ·  review of another edition
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.
The Artisan Geek
Feb 28, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcase
Excited to have been able to get my hands on some Scottish lit! :D

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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.
Helen Carolan
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally loved this one. Oona grows up on the island of Inis of the Irish coast. She has a difficult relationship with her religious zealot mother, loves her gentle brother Enda and is confused about her feelings for his best friend. When she has a bad experience she flees the island to Canada with a total stranger hoping for a better life. 20yrs later and that better life has not meteralised and she has a difficult relationship with her own daughter. When the girl disappears Oona realises she ...more
Louise Fein
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 who ...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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 novels 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 of
Victoria Catherine Wright
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
My thanks to Canongate for an eARC via NetGalley of The Island Child by Molly Aitken in exchange for an honest review. It was published on 30 January 2020.

The Island Child is Oona, who grew up on the wind-blasted island of Inis, located off the coast of Ireland. On the island the only book allowed was the Bible and girls were expected to either marry and become mothers or stay home and look after their ageing parents. Oona wants more from her life.

This novel tells Oonas story both in her youth
Jane Healey
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 didnt 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. Its a novel
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: van-ditmar
The Island Child van de in Schotland geboren, maar in Ierland opgegroeide Molly Aitken vertelt het verhaal van Oona. Eigenlijk bevat het boek twee verhaallijnen. Het boek begint bij de jonge Oona die tijdens een storm wordt geboren op het Ierse eiland Inis. Het verhaal vertelt over haar twee broers, haar ouders en de andere bewoners van het eiland. Een plek waar het leven niet gemakkelijk is en waar Oona uiteindelijk weg vlucht. Tussendoor lezen we het verhaal van een oudere Oona, zo'n 20 jaar ...more
Hebridean Reader
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Growing up on an island off Galway that women rarely left, a girls life was inevitably restricted. Confined to a three-room house with an unloving mother, with only two years of uninspiring schooling, Oonas options are more limited than most. But that doesnt stop her dreaming. As soon as shes old enough, shell leave.
Full review
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Muhemed Masika
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
newborn infantry
Elizabeth Findlay
Could not finish or really follow the repitition of emotions
Hannah Whiteoak
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I loved the back-and-forth between young and old Oona, which gave a hint of where the girl was heading. Beautiful and brilliant world-building of a fictional Irish island, which felt incredibly real. Plot-wise, this is a very sad story, but it left me feeling hopeful.
Gaby B.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not ready for this book to end, I just wanted to read it forever. Molly Aitkens prose alone is one of the most gorgeous pieces of writing Ive ever read. Her style is so evocative and strong, its hard to believe this is her debut novel. The book is mostly set in Ireland and there is a wildness to both the beauty of the setting and the characters themselves which works in echoes throughout the book. It is a read that is beautiful yet eerie in parts: magic, folklore and the past are woven ...more
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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

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