Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by var­i­ous re­view­ers

Sarah Carl­son, Turner Pub­lish­ing (MARCH) Soft­cover $14.99 (240pp), 978-1-68442-252-4

At first, Sarah Carl­son’s All the Walls of Belfast comes across as a solid vari­a­tion of a meet­cute young adult ro­mance, but Carl­son’s story has even more go­ing for it. The book and its two main char­ac­ters grap­ple with the his­tory of vi­o­lence in North­ern Ire­land. Their story takes place in the present day, but in a city where the Trou­bles are never far away.

Fiona, a teenager raised in Wis­con­sin, re­cently learned that she was born in North­ern Ire­land and that her mother brought her to Amer­ica when she was two. She is mak­ing her first trip to Belfast to re­con­nect with the fa­ther and broth­ers she never re­ally knew. That in­cludes learn­ing about her fa­ther’s in­famy as a prom­i­nent Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army mem­ber and the domino ef­fects it had on her fam­ily. Danny, who has never left Belfast, has his own chal­lenges. His drunk and abu­sive fa­ther wants him to give up his dream of be­com­ing an army nurse, drop out of school, and join a Protes­tant para­mil­i­tary group.

Once they meet and fall for each other, Danny and Fiona’s back­sto­ries are ob­vi­ously go­ing to crash into one an­other, but Carl­son throws in sev­eral earned sur­prises along the way. The treat­ment of the Trou­bles is ap­pro­pri­ately com­pli­cated, as are the char­ac­ters’ views of them. And while the ro­mance is an im­por­tant story line for both teens, their fam­ily sit­u­a­tions and plans for the fu­ture are treated with equal grav­ity.

Carl­son al­ter­nates her chap­ters, with Fiona and Danny tak­ing turns telling their story, al­low­ing both to con­vey the strug­gles of their fam­ily sit­u­a­tions and their feel­ings for one an­other. This is a young adult ro­mance with real mean­ing be­hind it, and it is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the genre.

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