In the Country of the Young

In the Country of the Young

4.9 10
by Lisa Carey

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On a stormy November night in 1848, a ship carrying more than a hundred Irish emigrants ran aground twenty miles off the coast of Maine. Many were saved, but some were not -- including a young girl who died crying out the name of her brother.

In the present day, the artist Oisin MacDara lives in self-imposed exile on Tiranogue -- the small island where the


On a stormy November night in 1848, a ship carrying more than a hundred Irish emigrants ran aground twenty miles off the coast of Maine. Many were saved, but some were not -- including a young girl who died crying out the name of her brother.

In the present day, the artist Oisin MacDara lives in self-imposed exile on Tiranogue -- the small island where the shipwrecked Irish settled. The past is Oisin's curse, as memories of the twin sister who died tragically when he was a boy haunt him still.

Then on a quiet All Hallows' Eve, a restless spirit is beckoned into his home by a candle flickering in the window: the ghost of the girl whose brief life ended on Tiranogue's shore more than a century earlier. In Oisin's house she seeks comfort and warmth, and a chance at the life that was denied her so long ago.

For a lonely man chained by painful memories, nothing will ever be the same again.

Editorial Reviews
From Lisa Carey, author of The Mermaids Singing, comes a haunting, lyrical fable about a doomed ship full of Irish immigrants that crashed off the coast of Maine 150 years ago and the young girl who didn't make it. In the present day, an artist haunted by the memory of his twin sister's childhood death lives in self-imposed exile on Tiranogue, the New England island settled by the ship's survivors. On a quiet All Hallow's Eve, the ghost of the shipwrecked girl seeks asylum in his home, beckoned by a candle left burning in the window.

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In the Country of the Young

Chapter One

In the palm of his hand, beneath ink stains and scars from careless splatters of acid, Oisin MacDara has three life lines.

He has known this since he was twenty-two, when he paid ten dollars on the street in Portland for a palm reading. The young woman who held his hand and traced its lines with a flirtatious stroke that left him half hard did not look like a spiritual adviser. Instead, she could have been one of the female students whom Oisin had seduced during his year of teaching art at the community college. Which was half the reason he'd stopped and put his hand out in the first place.

"Your life line is broken into three," she said. "This is the first part of your life." She pointed to the indented half moon in the curve between his thumb and forefinger. "It's the deepest line: your life as a child." She smiled at him, and the tiny green stone in her nostril rose slightly out of its hole.

"This is the second part of your life," she said, running her thumb over the center of his palm, where a fierce Jumble of slices converged, like brambles attacking the skin.

"And this is your last life."

A line so smooth he could have etched it himself, reaching all the way to the pale skin that barely guarded the blue veins of his wrist.

"You are here now," she told him, pointing to the thicket of brambles. She had a Maine accent. She was trying to disguise it, but it leaked into her words, he-ah for here.

She looked up at Oisin, narrowing her eyes. It occurred to him that he could have sex with this girl. At twenty-two, such opportunities were still new enough tosurprise him, and sometimes he forgot to ask himself whether he was interested before his seduction reflex took over. This time, he resisted.

I'll give her a miss, he thought. It was superstition more than anything that made him walk away. He was afraid of jinxing the palm reading, of disrespecting that small psychic moment. For she had recognized what he had always known-that there was a gap, a clear divide between his childhood and his life now. When he was young, he could see (he'd had a gift, a second sight), and in the years that followed, everything, even the tangible world, had seemed indistinct. As though, sometime during puberty, he'd gone blind.

Though his neighbors think he is a cynical, faithless man, Oisin is actually highly superstitious. It's his demeanor that's misleading. He is intensely Moody, his eyes seem to search faces for evil motives, and he has a sarcastic, sometimes harsh humor. People tend to assume that he would not be open-minded to the spiritual or supernatural aspects of life. Nobody realizes that Oisin knows more than most about such things.

If he were as cynical as he appeared, he would have tossed the moment aside, denounced it later as a whim and the girl as a New Age student desperate for hash money. But Olsin, who is secretly hopeful above all else, in the twenty years since he had his palm analyzed in Portland, has been waiting for his sight to be returned, and for his last life to begin.

The haunting begins with an open door and missing tobacco, though Oisin, who has grown lazy from so much waiting, does not recognize it at first.

Oisin has been smoking since he was a teenager, but in the two years since his fortieth birthday, he has rolled his own cigarettes from imported blond tobacco. He rolls them partly because it is cheaper, partly because he enjoys the ritual of creating each smoke, and mostly because he considers it a step toward giving up smoking altogether. Rollies are healthier, he tells himself, pure tobacco, none of the burning agents, glass fragments, or formaldehyde you find in filter cigarettes. This pure tobacco leaves brown streaks where his two front teeth meet, which he scrapes off with a paring knife every few weeks.

This is the second time he has lost the eight-dollar tin that is supposed to last him a month. He's too much of an addict to be careless about where he leaves the tobacco. He has considered the possibility of schizophrenia and imagines that he is experiencing blackouts during which he chain-smokes and then disposes of the evidence. Perhaps he has a second personality that is not getting its fair share of nicotine.

Before beginning the day's work in his studio, he drives to the island quay to buy another tin. Lined along the docks in a sheltered bay are Tiranogue's few businesses: a restaurant with picnic table seating, a pub with fishing nets catching dust on the ceiling, a husband-and-wife-owned store specializing in hardware and Irish sweaters, and a lobster hut rocking perilously on a small float, tended by local girls in bikinis who reapply suntan oil when they're not hoisting submerged traps of shellfish.

Oisin enters the general grocer, which 'is stocked with everything Moira, the proprietor, imagines an islander might need. In one corner is a soda fountain pharmacy, where locals can have a bowl of chowder while Moira's brother, Michael, fills their prescription. It has the same menu as the restaurant, and often Michael runs next door to fill orders for clam plates, but the locals never enter the restaurant--it is meant for the tourists.

Moira orders Oisin's tobacco specially; all the other islanders smoke one of four popular brands of filter cigarettes. He wants to explain to her that he just keeps losing his supply so she won't start ordering extra tobacco. He can imagine her unease as it slowly goes stale on the shelf But he's afraid of how this absentmindedness will look, and how rumors of his deteriorating brain will spread. He ends up buying two tins; it seems easier than explaining. He'll hide one from himself and test the sharpness of his errant personality...

In the Country of the Young. Copyright © by Lisa Carey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lisa Carey is the author of The Mermaids Singing, In the Country of the Young, and Love in the Asylum. She lived in Ireland for five years and now resides in Portland, Maine, with her husband and their son.

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In the Country of the Young 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't recommend this book highly enough. I barely put it down the entire time I was reading it, and I when it was through I was sorry I had to say goodbye to the characters. It's an everyday story of the power of love with a supernatural twist (i.e., love can literally bring back the dead). The story revolves around a man named Oisin (a gaelic name pronounced O-sheen) who has cut himself off from everyone on the island where he lives. But one being slips into his life -- Aisling (pronounced Ashling), the ghost of a tiny girl who died fleeing the Irish potato famine -- and changes him forever. If you're looking for a gorgeously written, magical book you need look no further. Read 'In the Country of the Young.' You won't regret it!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so beautiful. A portrait of human pain and healing. The prose reads like poetry and just about rips your heart about but you can't help but smile at the bittersweet ending. My favorite among Lisa Carey's work and one of my all time favorite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorites. I've read it like 4 times already and still it has me crying by the end. The plot is so poignant it just twists ur heart and pulls.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had me from the first page! The unexpected plot was so gripping that I couldn't put the book down. I passed it on to my daughter who shared it with another friend who then gave it to another friend.....until we lost track of the book entirely which was ok because we knew others were loving it as much as we did! I can't wait to read another of Lisa Carey's books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was such an unusual book but wonderful from beginning to end. I loved the setting and the way she goes from the present to the past to the present again. I loved the people and the way the characters grew because of their relationships with each other. An excellent, excellent book. I didn't want it to end but the way it did was very fullfilling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's not often I find a book this impossible to put down. It was so real I thought no wonder the author made sure to point out that the island Tiranogue is fictitious. Anyone who loves this book would be compelled to search for it, I'm sure. The characters, the supernatural elements, the back and forth unfolding of the story all work amazinly well. Instead of losing the momentum with all the overlapping stories and timelines, it all unfolds like a mystery and I just wanted to know - What's going to happen? I really hope it turns out this way! This is just an old fashioned excellent story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carey has a way of writing Irish folklore so beautifully. By the end of reading this book, you feel almost as though her story were real. She presents tidbits of actual history and weaves them with immense emotion, as well as her own irish folklore, making the story a very rich experience. What I got most out of the story was the deep characters. I really found myself adoring them and understanding their feelings. Through the story, each of the four main characters' story unravels. I love how Carey weaves her imagination to keep the reader on their toes, excited to find out what will be revealed next. I actually liked her second novel more than the first (though I should re-read it) perhaps because the way she creates the ghost's life is so believable, that you forget it is all fantasy. Normally I do not read books with the plot setting in present time, but much of the story was the past setting of Oisin and his sister's life as well as Aisling and her brother Daaragh in the days of the potatoe famine. So I did not mind the present setting, and rather enjoyed it. Carey's stories are intriguing and I really hope she thinks of writing another novel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't wait for the prizes or the movie version to read this book. It is a near perfect story of lost love and redemption, written with unerring restraint, humor, and pathos. While the book is steeped in the supernatural, Carey doesn't exploit the theme as a gimmick; rather, she uses the spirit world to explore the human heart. It is amazing that a writer so young seems to know this territory so well. In the Country of the Young is a great book. You will never forget it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lisa Carey has done it again with her second breathtaking novel. Dipping into the paranormal and long loved but forgotten tales, she brings forth a modern fairytale of second chances for life and love. Being a fan of Carey's and waiting as patiently as possible for this second novel, I had to pace myself, only allowing a chapter a night to be read. Do yourself a favor and read both of her books.