Heartrending, moving and important, The Paper Bracelet is a must read. It explores with subtle power the horrific atrocities unwed pregnant girls and women experienced when they were sent to specialised mother and baby homes against their will. This novel is a captivating fictional account but it is inspired by true events that have had poignant repercussions, not only for the girls/women forced into these circumstances, but also for the children they were made to give up. It also skilfully portrays the affects this practice had on other family members.
Through media, film and fiction, like most people I was already aware of these institutions. This is a piece of history that has always horrified and moved me, but this book has had a particular emotional impact on me. I’m not sure exactly why – maybe because it is such a character driven story written in a compelling, sensitive manner? The result being that I was totally gripped reading it – it educated me, shocked me and moved me. It also had me on a turbulent emotional rollercoaster throughout.
The Paper Bracelet portrays the diverse impact and repercussions on different individuals connected to Carrigbrack, a fictional institution set in the West of Ireland. It is through the character of Katie that their individual stories are evocatively linked. Katie was a nurse at Carrigbrack in the early 70s. Since leaving her work at the institution almost fifty years ago, Katie has hidden a box away containing babies’ identity bracelets along with a notebook documenting small details of each birth mother and child.
Recently widowed Katie feels it is the time to use the information in her possession to try and unite the lost children with their mothers. With the help of her niece she posts a message online and responses start coming in.
Through Rachael English’s evocative storytelling, we as readers discover the stories of Gary, Ailish, Chrissie and others. All these stories are different, heart breaking but also hopeful. Eddie’s story had a real and raw impact on me for personal reasons. I want to thank Rachael English for writing about the subject matter within Eddie’s subplot with knowledge, skill and sensitivity.
Even though the plot of this book ripped my heart to pieces, I loved it and was fully immersed in all the individual stories. I was also really shocked as the paper bracelets that Katie had were from the early 1970s, just a few short years before I was born. I don’t think I appreciated until reading this beautiful book how recent this horrific history is.
The Paper Bracelet was only published on 9th of July 2020. I urge you to read it. However I must warn you, I couldn’t put this book down and I was in floods of tears at the end. But I loved every word.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour to help publicise this stunning novel. Thank you also, along with Headline Books for my advance copy.
To read the book reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on The Paper Bracelet blog tour please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂