C.G. Drews's Reviews > All the Bad Apples

All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
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really liked it
bookshelves: 4-star, contemporary, read-2019, young-adult

I'm sitting here just trying to...gather myself after this incredibly hard-hitting powerful story. This was deeply, deeply moving. Like I was nearly choking on rage tears at the end there (inwardly) because it's so deeply about feminism, about the history of abuse and cruelty and discrimination that queer people and women have suffered forever. I'm serious...I was so gobsmacked. This book WENT for it. And holy shit, it nailed the topic.

// this is no light read
It's beautifully written and framed in soft words (I really love the author's style and I was obsessed with The Accident Season back in 2015!!), but I was just here thinking it would be about a girl finding her missing sister after they failed to be "good enough" for their strict family. BUT. It's much much more than that.

For starters, Deena is 17 but her older twin sisters are in their 30s. Their mother is dead, father is horrible and absent, basically only returns to make sure they're being "good enough". He's very religious too. Then Mandy goes missing, but they find blood on the rocks and her empty car and so it's ruled a suicide. Thus begins Deena launching into basically this 36-hour spaced plot where she follows these letters Mandy left to find her.

The letters are about their family history. And it was so so hard to read at times. We're talking the 1930s in Ireland; everything is intensely catholic, and it's inhumane how they treated women. It's shocking and despicable and honestly made my stomach turn. I KNOW this stuff is real too and the author's note talks about just how real it is. But like pregnant unmarried women being stuffed into Catholic workhouses and nunneries where they're full on treated horrifically in the name of "suffer so your sins are forgiven". It deals with rape, lack of abortion rights, how women have their children ripped away from them, how hundreds (nearly thousands) of women/babies died in these workhouse/nunneries. How queer people were treated and murdered. It's a lot.

It's a lot of a lot and it's true and it makes me burn. Which is exactly what the story was here to do. It is about being outraged. It is about not sitting in silence so history repeats itself again and again. It just makes you cry at the privilege of today.

"...the past will only keep repeating itself as long as we're kept powerless by our silence."


// present vs past story line
So in the present, we have Deena narrating in 1st person. I loved her so much! She's worried about being a "bad apple" of the family...hiding that she's gay and drowning in the secrets of her family's past. And then in the past, we go through several generations of her ancestors. It's very very focused on the women, but it's all...told. So it doesn't read very fast and tbh it isn't my favourite style of book to read. Very reflective almost? But it didn't lessen how important and powerful the whole book is. Like my soul is pretty much shaking in rage of what they all went through. And it was so casual. The parents calling their raped daughters sluts and forcing them to carry their babies and then ripping those babies away...god it's really tough to read. (view spoiler)

Also, in the present, there's so much diversity! Deena is queer and she meets Cale, also queer, while Deena's best friend is bi and black. It's a love letter to minorities who have been crushed and silenced in the past. 💛

// I'll be thinking about this one for a long long time
It's so so worth it, especially for just being LOUD and talking about what women have gone through in the past. What queer women and people have suffered. (view spoiler) The tagline for this is "shatter the silence" and I'm so glad YA books are doing this.

"Like Ida said, sometimes you have to feel the past to believe it."
"It needs to be told like a story in order to be heard," I said.
"Right. Exactly." He shoved his hands into his pockets, shrugged. "It's the story itself that's fucked."
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Reading Progress

August 10, 2018 – Shelved
August 10, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 17, 2019 –
page 100
28.41% "this entire cover is a gift to this world."
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: 4-star
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
August 18, 2019 – Started Reading
August 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

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