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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. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.”