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Thin Places

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A breathtaking mix of memoir, nature writing and social history: this is Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s story of a wild Ireland, an invisible border, an old conflict and the healing power of the natural world

Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, at the very height of the Troubles. She was brought up on a grey and impoverished council estate on the wrong side of
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published January 28th 2021 by Canongate Books Ltd.
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Annette Jordan
Thin Places by Kerri ni Dochartaigh may be one of the last books I read in the strange year that has been 2020 but it is also one of the best. I found myself slowing down to savour the beautiful words on the page and the vivid images they conjured. The book is part memoir, part nature writing and part history, taking the author's story of growing up in Derry as part of a mixed Faith family during the Troubles and showing how from a very young age her connection with the natural world was a groun ...more
Richard Eastop
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
I've become a fan of what I might call Irish Noir fiction. So many talented writers continue to emerge in Ireland and I enjoy in particular the dark tragi-comedy that many express. Landscape is often a powerful 'character' in these stories which, my having made a number of visits to the country, makes the reading experience so strong. So when I read that 'Thin Places' was a mixture of memoir, history and nature I jumped in.

As I read the first chapters I felt a reluctant disappointment. Had no-on
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it

Beautiful ♥️
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, natural-history
Growing in up in Northern Ireland was tough in the time of the Troubles for all sorts of people. For Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s it was even harder. One parent was Protestant and the other Catholic and the area that they lived was part of a Protestant estate. Not fitting in with any of the divided communities really didn’t help, but she was witness to all sorts of traumatic events including witnessing the murder of a soldier as a small child, It got much harder to live there after her home was firebo ...more
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
The "thin places" of the title refers to (in the author's own words - please be minded any quotes may change in the final version of the book): "places that make us feel something larger than ourselves, as though we are held in place between worlds, beyond experience."

I love the idea of this, and the blend of nature and memoir always intrigues me, but I'm sorry to say little here worked for me. I didn't feel wholly convinced by the connections the author looks for between emotions, memory and pl
Katy Wheatley
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I really struggled with this book. I think I thought it would be more about nature than it was. That's not to say that it wasn't, but the focus and drive of the book is the author's working through her incredibly traumatic life and the key events in that journey that led her home. She references the 'thin places' often but for myself I didn't get a full sense of what they were like as places, more like what they represented to her as an individual and how she was able to connect with her trauma ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
This is an imperfect book but I couldn't help loving it and I think I will re-read it.
It is less nature-oriented than I thought it would be; but there are beautiful descriptions of nature, especially the sea, the river and the birds. The theme of the "thin places", borders, thresholds, in-betweens, is woven through the book It is lyrical, poetic, although repetitive at times.. There are many pages where the author describes being rejected and living in fear as a child - their house being petrol
Elizabeth McMenamin
Feb 02, 2021 rated it did not like it
I cannot but help thinking that this book is more of a fantasy than a reality. Most of her so called experiences are simply too numerous and too far fetched. She was born in the early-mid 1980s so even her age does not match up with these 'traumatic' experiences of the conflict that she states she had growing up in Derry.
Whilst I can't dispute that this author may have had some awful times in her life, nevertheless, it would appear that she cleverly uses her tenuous links throughout and embelli
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
'Through deeply traumatic and unsettled times I have been brought or found my own way across that border to seek solace in the weeds and wilderness held its hidden, healing, thin places.'
Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a beautifully written book that deals with raw, difficult experiences in a wise and careful way. It is about borders and trauma, love and loss, and the edges of nature, from lichen on rocks, to a moth by the sea or ladybirds in the backyard of a house on a council estate.
Happy Wanderer
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Kerri sensitively writes of her experience growing up during the most troubled times in Northern Irish history. Her story is similar to others who love their country yet Kerri’s view is uniquely different too. The thing about Northern Ireland is, that everyone who lives on this beautiful island is touched by the politics and sectarianism. Without question each story is valid. I found Kerry’s perspective of it alongside her soulful weaving of nature made Thin Places a thoughtful read. Highly reco ...more
Jen Burrows
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thin Places is a beautifully-written memoir about the Troubles, trauma and healing.

Kerri Ní Dochartaigh crafts some stunning images and her prose sings from the page. Her descriptions of the thin places are almost incantations, transporting you straight to the Atlantic shores of Ireland. While it gets a little repetitive at times, I loved the rich mix of nature writing and mythology.

But the beauty is always held at counterpoint to the brutality of the Troubles. This is a raw and honest explorati
Ali Moore
Feb 26, 2021 rated it did not like it
I bought this book for myself as I have an interest in local stories. As a member of the L’Derry diaspora in England, I was hoping to be thrown back to my own late 70s childhood.

As a few other reviewers have expressed, this book is quite far from reality. That is not saying it isn’t an interesting read, but this author does seem to be prone to flights of fancy. She keeps things vague so that she can embellish, for example she does not name the estate in L’Derry’s Waterside in which she grew up
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thin places is an autobiographical account of the trauma the author experienced growing up in Derry during the Troubles and the ripple effect that Brexit causes over Ireland and Northern Irelands over 100 years after the Easter Rising. It seems too easy to say what this book is about, but not easy to describe how this book made me feel.

This book is about loss and grief. It’s about borders: personal, geographical and symbolic ones. But mostly is the journey of a woman coming to terms with hersel
Michael starrett
A kind of homecoming

Not an easy read in places and get a compelling one. Not easy because when you know the places , thin and other, it reminds you of what could have been your lot too. Compelling because it leads you to a place that is at peace in your mind if not yet in reality.
Hannah  Powell
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
This lady has had a tough life and I really admire her honesty. She writes beautifully, with vulnerability. Slightly too ethereal for me in parts but the strength of the story and her love of nature shone through.
Sarah O'Riordan | travelseatsreads
This is one of the more unusual books I've read in a while and probably one I normally would have steered clear of. I generally am not a fan of over elaborate writing or indeed nature writing.

That aside this book captivated me fully. It is one of those books that while not a whole lot is actually happening, so much happens under the surface. Kerri's use of language is something special in itself. Through multiple layers of symbolism she looks at her ever changing aspects of trauma she has experi
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Places do not heal us.
Places only hold us; they only let us in.
Places only hold us close enough that we can finally see ourselves reflected back.”

Place; a word filled with so much meaning. It’s where you come from; perhaps where you escape from; where you travel and retreat to; where you put down roots. It can be a home; a prison; a shelter; an identity; a memory; a threshold; a portal. Place is often earthly, tangible and distinct, but it can also be transcendental, elusive and symbolic. The t
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