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The Carnival at Bray
     

The Carnival at Bray

5.0 3
by Jessie Ann Foley
 

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ALA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
Chicago Weekly Best Books of 2014
A Michael L. Printz Honor Award Winner

Winner, 2014 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
Finalist, William C. Morris Award

It's 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement.

Overview


ALA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
Chicago Weekly Best Books of 2014
A Michael L. Printz Honor Award Winner

Winner, 2014 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
Finalist, William C. Morris Award

It's 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a windswept town on the Irish Sea. Surviving on care packages of Spin magazine and Twizzlers from her rocker uncle Kevin, she wonders if she'll ever find her place in this new world. When first love and sudden death simultaneously strike, a naive but determined Maggie embarks on a forbidden pilgrimage that will take her to a seedy part of Dublin and on to a life- altering night in Rome to fulfill a dying wish. Through it all, Maggie discovers an untapped inner strength to do the most difficult but rewarding thing of all, live.

The Carnival at Bray is an evocative ode to the Smells Like Teen Spirit Generation and a heartfelt exploration of tragedy, first love, and the transformative power of music. The book won the 2014 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The story, writing and talent of Jessie Ann Foley are strong."  —Louise Brueggemann, children’s services supervisor, Naperville Public Library

“Foley’s young adult debut offers readers a wonderful, unique picture of adolescence from a fresh new voice.”  —Emil Ostrovski, author, The Paradox of Vertical Flight

"I really fell in love with The Carnival at Bray!"  —Becky Quiroga Curtis, former YA buyer, Books & Books, Miami, FL

“The narrative subtly and carefully interweaves peer and family drama . . . Every character, every place comes alive with crisp, precise detail. Powerfully evocative.”  —Kirkus, Starred Review

“Promising debut, set in the heyday of grunge . . . The narrative voice is clear and compelling . . . the secondary characters are complex and sympathetic: Foley has also populated Bray with a host of quirky, loving, and memorable background characters, which enriches the story.”  —School Library Journal

“Sweet is the wrong word for The Carnival at Bray, but tender works just fine.”  —New City, Recommended Review

The Carnival at Bray is a complex, eloquent, and deep look at one teen’s journey . . . I sense many more awards to come – it’s that good. Highly recommended!”  —Wandering Educator

“Beautifully-done coming of age story . . . as bittersweet as a first love and just as unforgettable.”  —Forever Young Adult

“This romantic and original book will be long remembered by its readers.”  —Ann Cummins, VOYA

“This romantic and original book will be long remembered by its readers.”  —Ann Cummins, VOYA

VOYA, December 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 5) - Amy Cummins
The cover design of The Carnival At Bray, depicting frayed denim fabric in the shape of Ireland and studded with safety pins, perfectly matches the content and grunge-era setting. In 1993, sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch moves from Chicago, Illinois, to the seaside town of Bray, near Dublin, Ireland, with her mother, younger sister, and new stepfather. Maggie is traumatized by the death of her cherished Uncle Kevin, a troubled musician and the type of godfather who takes a girl to a Smashing Pumpkins concert when she should be home with a fever. When Maggie finds Nirvana concert tickets Kevin sent her before his death, she runs away from Bray on a short “pilgrimage” to Rome, Italy, with her new boyfriend, Eoin. The rebellion puts them in violation of their Catholic schools’ rules. With evocative details, Foley’s debut novel truly makes readers feel they are in Ireland in the mid-1990s. However, the close third-person narrative perspective sometimes veers away from the teenaged protagonist and sounds like an adult. The literary style is more akin to “Araby” or another story out of James Joyce’s Dubliners than to a young adult novel, and this is both a good and bad thing. Also, Maggie’s sister, Ronnie, remains a flat character, although other characters are quite vividly rendered, such as Dan Sean O’Callaghan, a friend and advisor to Maggie whose one-hundredth birthday party brings the community together. This romantic and original book will be long remembered by its readers. Reviewer: Amy Cummins; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
09/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—This promising debut, set in the heyday of grunge, tells the story of Maggie Lynch, a displaced Chicagoan and grunge music fan, living in a quiet town (Bray) on the Irish Sea. Maggie was uprooted from her friends, her music scene, and her beloved Uncle Kevin when her romantically fickle mother married her latest boyfriend, resulting in a move to his hometown. During her time of difficult adjustment to Ireland, Maggie falls in love with Eion the very moment a devastating loss hits her family, leading to rebellion and a journey to Rome to see Nirvana and fulfill Uncle Kevin's wish for her. Foley sets the scene vividly, writing that Bray has a "soggy sort of grandeur" and weaving in the tiny cultural differences that Maggie has to navigate as an American. The narrative voice is clear and compelling, but Maggie often makes decisions that feel incongruous to her character. She has an independent spirit, but Eion only joins her on the journey because she needs a rescue. A self-professed Nirvana fan, which is critical to the plot, she never seems to like the band as much as she is trying to impress Uncle Kevin. However, the secondary characters are complex and sympathetic: Foley has also populated Bray with a host of quirky, loving, and memorable background characters, which enriches the story. Recommended for teens who enjoy travelogue romance stories or novels about rock music.—Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-20
In 1993, 16 year-old Maggie and her family move from Chicago to small-town Ireland with the latest of her mother's romantic partners. Moving to Bray, Maggie leaves behind warm, practical Nanny Ei and beloved Uncle Kevin, a 26-year-old who plays in a band, sneaks her into grunge rock concerts and makes himself responsible for Maggie's musical education. Arriving in Ireland, Maggie finds that she's no better at fitting in with the girls of St. Brigid's than she had been at her old school. Instead, she forms a loose web of connections with local figures: Dan Sean, a Bray legend at 99, whose home becomes a refuge for Maggie in times of family conflict; Aíne, the bookish classmate with whom Maggie reluctantly goes on double dates; and Eoin, the gentle boy with whom Maggie falls in love. The narrative subtly and carefully interweaves peer and family drama—much of it involving troubled Uncle Kevin—with the highs and lows of the grunge music scene, from the transformative glory of a Nirvana concert to the outpouring of grief around the death of Kurt Cobain. Every character, every place comes alive with crisp, precise detail: Maggie's heartbroken mother "howling along in an off-key soprano" to Joni Mitchell's Blue, Dan Sean welcoming Maggie with a Cossack's hat and a hefty glass of port. Powerfully evocative. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780989515597
Publisher:
Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2014
Pages:
235
Sales rank:
97,176
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jessie Ann Foley is a Chicago Public Schools English teacher. She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. She lives in Chicago.

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Carnival at Bray 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is quintessential young adult novel that realistically portrays the struggles of entering adulthood in a foreign country. It may appeal to young readers experiencing this for the first time, as well as older readers who will relate to the nostalgia of the early 90s setting. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I’m a sucker for book covers and I’ll be the first one to admit it, this one had me. Once I started to read the story, I got drawn up into the life of sixteen-year old Maggie. Her mother seems to fall for men quickly and her latest addiction lands the family in Ireland, way too far from Maggie’s Nanny and Uncle Kevin. Nanny would always be there to soften the blow from mother’s rejected boyfriends and Uncle Kevin being the youngest of Nanny’s children was a constant figure in her life. Uncle Kevin changed Maggie’s life just before the move from Chicago, he opened her eyes to the world around her, showing her that the world is a big place and she was no longer a child. This experience filled Maggie with the spirit of music, adventure, and opportunity. The move is hard on Maggie and she’s making some bad choices, putting herself in awkward situations. I feel it’s as though she just existing in Ireland, as she tries to connect with the kids that she meets, it’s so sad, where did Chicago Maggie go? From her mind-blowing experience with Uncle Kevin to how she feels and acts now, Maggie’s not the same person. It’s heartbreaking to see her waste away and no one else is noticing it. Uncle Kevin and Nanny arrive in Ireland and Maggie’s spirit is lifted. Uncle Kevin’s band has dissolved and he’s talking about starting up a new one, as that‘s what all great musicians do. His love of music has inspired Maggie but a fight with Maggie’s stepfather has Uncle Kevin packing his bags quickly and hitting the road. The road life takes Maggie on is not paved with gold, nor it gravel. It’s a road with hills and straight-aways where Maggie will learn that there are consequences for your actions and love is just not a four-letter word. For older YA readers only. I found that it seemed that at times the words that I read were profound, so perfect for the situation at hand, words chosen so carefully and precise. Those words jumped out at me and I slowed my pace so I could reread those lines, as I enjoyed how they were inserted everywhere for my enjoyment. “Rome was under their nails, in their hair, and Maggie knew that when they awoke, they would never be able to wash it out: and that even if they could, they would never want to.”