Title: The Carnival at Bray
Author: Jessie Ann Foley
2014 – YA – Realistic Fiction
The Story: Maggie is just your average teen girl trying to fit in. Her mother has just married Colm, and the family moves to Bray, a seaside town in County Wicklow, Ireland. It only gets harder after the death of her beloved Uncle Kevin, but luckily Maggie meets Eoin, a local boy who understands her better than anyone else. Together, they take a trip to Rome to fulfill Uncle Kevin’s dying wish.
The Opening Line: The carnival at Bray stood braced against the rain on the rocky coastline of the Irish Sea, the pink and green lights of the old-fashioned Ferris wheel winking and dissolving in the reflection of the waves.
What I Loved: Let’s see. Set in Ireland? Check. Pretentious school setting? Check. Traveling through Europe? Check. An adorable romance? Check. A wise but irreverent older mentor or two? Check. Seriously. This book has all the ingredients for a great read! But it wasn’t just fun and shallow. It delved into deeper topics – suicide, depression, mental illness, and more. And the writing is really lovely.
What I Didn’t Love: For me, the book started off really slowly. Honestly, it could have been because I was reading other things, but it did take a while for me to get into it.
Final Thoughts: Man, this was a beautiful book. One of the reviews on Goodreads said that this book almost could fall into the sub-genre of YA lit in which a main character takes off on a trip around the world with very few possessions, loses said possessions, regains them, and learns a life lesson. I agree, and I really enjoy almost any book that falls into that category. This reminded me a lot of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Just One Day. Definitely a new favorite.