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Breda's Island

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This book was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and it kept me guessing throughout, which is difficult for most books to do. I felt like I connected with the characters and really enjoyed the plot!
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This was so good, I was sad when it was over. I loved that this was about a lot of things and it wasn't overbearing on any one of the topics. It was about taking accountability for your actions, being the child of an undocumented immigrant, being an unwed mother from a very traditional country, and repairing old wounds and relationships. I loved that it was about an irish immigrant and it didn't take place in the early 20th century. And the inclusion of the Irish stories and idioms was just so lovely.
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Breda's Island, by Jessie Ann Foley, follows Breda Moriarty, who is sent to stay with her grandfather in Ireland for the summer after she's repeatedly caught stealing. During her stay in Ireland, she grows closer to her grandfather, whom she had previously never met, and learns about the story of her family and how her mother came to become an undocumented immigrant to the US.

This book is lovely in so many ways.

My favorite aspect was the way in which it explores several generations of trauma, and how those affect Breda now, as well as how she and the rest of her family process them and work through them. The family relationships are complicated, but the way in which they interact and drive the characters are heartbreaking and compelling. Breda's mother had her as a teenager, which played in turn on Breda's grandfather's own trauma associated with his childhood, and it is truly just so well-written in a way I wasn't expecting from a fantasy book.

Breda's mother is always busy with the hair salon she started, so Breda had started stealing small things as a way of getting any sort of attention. She's a relative outcast at school, particularly after she's caught stealing a classmate's spare gym uniform after getting her period for the first time unexpectedly and ruining hers. She grows a lot as a character as she learns more about her family history, and as she moves from resenting the situation to appreciating the country and the ability to develop relationships with previously-estranged family members.

I loved almost all of the characters; Breda's mother was not my favorite, but Breda, her grandfather, and the variety of other people that she meets in Ireland are all interesting and distinct, which definitely helps to draw the reader in and make the narrative feel alive despite a relatively slow-moving plot.

The setting is wonderful; I've always wanted to visit Ireland, and I really loved reading about Breda's grandfather's farm and the small towns surrounding it.. You can practically see the gorgeous scenery as you read the book; it's done that well.

I also appreciated the book's treatment of difficult topics. From the abuse at Irish mother-and-baby homes, to undocumented immigration, to single motherhood and having children out of wedlock, it handles a wide variety of issues and does them all well. They are tackled in a way that is suitable for its middle-grade audience, but still treated with nuance and complexity in a really skillful way.

The main thing that I wish is that this book had been longer. The ending felt a bit rushed, and I would have loved to see more character growth and more exploration into how the family changes and grows closer together after the events of the book. As it is, the conclusion of the story does not feel as if it was treated with the same love and care as the rest of it was.

Overall, Breda's Island is a sweet, genuine, moving story that can appeal both to its target middle-grade audience and to older readers. The relationships between characters feel so natural and real, the issues covered are treated with the nuance and depth that they deserve, and it is an overall heart-warming story that I know I would have loved as a middle-grade reader. I'm giving Breda's Island 4/5 stars.,
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Breda’s Island is one of those books that you may not be completely sure about when you pick it up, but are quickly convinced of its excellence.

Author Jessie Ann Foley’s prose is warm, comforting and all-encompassing. She deftly sets the scene, transporting readers to a land of expansive green where residents are at once immediately welcoming but know how to keep a grudge.

At the center of the story is Breda, a girl who is begging for attention, but gets sent away for her actions. Breda’s mother fled to the US when she was pregnant, cutting off all ties with her father. Breda and her mother used to be as close as can be, but when her mom opens a new business, all her focus turns to that.

Breda’s not really a “bad girl,” and she quickly finds her footing in Ireland, and, later, with her grandfather. There are years of bad will built up in Breda’s family — bad will that she’s determined to figure out. Breda’s curiosity about the past pushes her forward and changes her family forever.

Breda is a complicated character, but one that you want to root for. Even more complicated are her mother and Granda. This complicated relationship plays out against a beautiful, harsh backdrop that sucks you in.

Breda’s Island is a quiet, driving read that explores relationships, immigration and the meaning of family. It’s an excellent read for children ages 9 and up.
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Breda's Island
by Jessie Ann Foley
Pub Date 12 Jul 2022 
 HarperCollins Children's Books,  Quill Tree Books
 Children's Fiction  |  Middle Grade 




I am reviewing a copy of Breda’s Island through HarperCollin’s Children’s Book and Netgalley:



Breda Moriarity gets caught stealing one to many times so Breda's mom sends her to Ireland, a place she has never been, to live with the grandfather she has never met. 




While Breda doesn’t want to be in this strange land, she finally gets to meet Granda, her mom’s father. He’s a grumpy farmer who is also a seanchaí, a traditional Gaelic storyteller. But the most important story is the one nobody will talk about: what happened to her absent father. If nothing else this summer, Breda is determined to figure out the truth about her family’s history and herself.


I give Breda’s Secret five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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Breda’s Island is a touching tale of a girl sent to live for the summer with the grandfather she’s never met. Her journey of self discovery and the discovery of her past is a heartwarming one. Breda has stolen something one too many times and her mom makes good on her threat to send her to Ireland to live with her grandfather for the summer. A grandfather she’ has only talked to on the phone once a year at Christmas. When she arrives, her grandfather isn’t exactly warm and welcoming, during her time there she learns a lot about his past and hers as well. Breda begins to understand during her time there the rocky relationship he has with her mother and the tortured past of her grandfather. She learns a lot about herself and is not the same girl that showed up at the beginning of the summer by the time she leaves. Breda realizes she is capable of more than she has ever imagined. 

I really enjoyed Breda’s Island and will definitely be adding it to out school library next year! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.
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Reading this was like taking a virtual trip through the countryside of Ireland. I really enjoyed this moving tale about Breda's summer spent with her Granda (grandpa) in her mother's homeland of Ireland where she gets to explore her roots and realize the depth of her own inner strength and build confidence at a pivotal time in life. Brenda is the daughter of a strong single mother who is an illegal immigrant living in Chicago. Deep themes about the power of family, culture, identity, and willingness to change at any age unfold in an engaging story with highly relatable and likable characters.
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With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review.

I absolutely adored the setting of the book, Ireland, and truly felt transported to Ireland. In that sense, the book reminded me of McCullough's Across the Pond. I also have a soft spot for stories with intergenerational relationships, perhaps because of my close relationship with my grandma when I was growing up. While there were a number of elements I really liked about the book I'm just not sure I have a wide audience of readers who will get into and appreciate the story. This is one I'll be mulling over for a little bit as I consider whether to add it to my classroom library.
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This was classified as a middle grade book but would definitely be better suited as a young adult book due to the content. 

Born to an unwed teenager, Breeda is no stranger to family issues. Her grandfather, Granda, shares a similar backstory, but he was raised in an orphanage by nuns who were physically and emotionally abusive to him growing up. 

Breeda is a product of inter generational trauma and faces many struggles herself. She steals and ends up being sent to Ireland to live with her grandfather after being caught one too many times. Granda starts out as the typical cranky old man but bonds with Breeda as she delves into her family’s past. 

This was a nice coming of age story but hits on many deep topics. This would be a good one to read together as a family and be able to have discussions about issues that everyone carries with them, family history and healing from difficult events.
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Family is one of the greatest blessings in the world, but it is also full of challenges. Breda’s Island is a story about a young girl trying to work through some of those challenges. She has to deal with broken family ties and struggle to understand herself as well. While I’m not sure if I love all of the characters in this book and I certainly do not agree with all the decisions, it’s a touching story about the importance of forgiveness and family.
	When Breda is caught stealing one too many times, her mother sends her to her estranged grandfather in Ireland. Breda deals with many family secrets as she tries to live with her cranky Granda. She also wants to figure out the mystery of who her father is. Will Breda be able to reconcile her family together or are some mistakes too big to be patched up?
	Breda is such a relatable character. She feels invisible and lost, so she acted out in stealing things. While she made mistakes, I enjoyed seeing her fresh perspective on her family's hurts. She was brave enough and mature enough to choose to move forward. 
	Her relationship with her Granda was super sweet. His backstory was so sad, and I loved the depth of his character. Content warning for parents: Granda was born out of wedlock, and due to the time period, he was sent to an orphanage. In the orphanage, the nuns physically and emotionally abused him because his parents weren't married. He wasn’t made into a villain despite his failures in his relationship with his daughter and granddaughter. I’m honestly not sure how to feel about Breda’s mom. Let’s just say she’s a very complicated woman. Content warning for parents: Breda was born out of wedlock when her parents were 17. The book mentions how other parents judge her mom because she dresses and wears makeup like a teenager and because she curses.
	I truly enjoyed this story! I think it was made for an older audience, but it is a heartbreaking yet hopeful book. I would recommend it to middle schoolers and older. However, I think parents might want to read it themselves before giving it to their kids.

Content Warning: Undocumented immigration, babies being born out of wedlock, mild cursing, emotional and physical abuse

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion, a positive review was not required.
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Breda's Island by Jessie Ann Foley is a good middle grade book, set in Ireland with lots of local color and interesting characters.  From Breda herself, to her Grandfather she has never met, to the family she finally finds, the journey they all undertake to get to know and understand each other is a very interesting, well written and readable book.
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Brenda’s Island is an interesting character study. It focuses on Breda, of course, who out of need for attention from her mother, an illegal  Irish immigrant, acts out by stealing small items. The result is that her mother sends her to Ireland to spend the summer with her grandfather to learn about how actions lead to consequences and to get in touch with her family in Ireland.
       Brenda’s grandfather is cantankerous old man. He is distant and often clashes with Breda. He has lived alone since Breda’s mother left and his feelings make it difficult at first for the two  them to connect. By the end of the novel, they both learn the importance of family and how to overcome the feelings that have prevented them from getting close to others. That change makes this an excellent source of character development. Therefore, it would be a great text for teaching about character.
        I like the detailed descriptions of people and places.  It engages the reader  and makes it worth reading.
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Brenda’s Island is an honest and authentic story of growing up in a life that is different than the ones you see around you. Breda is the child of an illegal immigrant mother and a father she has never met. Her mother came to the US on a visa and stayed, building a life for herself and her daughter under the radar. While she pours her efforts into starting her business, Breda feels forgotten and alone and turns to stealing to get her mother’s attention. Her mother sends her to Ireland to spend her summer with the grandfather she has never met as punishment for her stealing. Breda starts her summer resentful and lost, but as she builds a relationship with her Granda, she finds herself growing up and learning more than she could have imagined. When Granda has an accident, she learns what matters most and finds how perfectly she fits into the life she has.

This story is warm and loving and genuine, and middle grade readers will see themselves in it. Brenda’s mother is a strong character, and Granda is so loving in his brusque way. There is a strong social commentary on undocumented immigration, and the author makes her stance clear, which may seem strange to some readers who are focused on Breda’s story rather than the politics of immigration. Otherwise, the plot, characters, and theme of this novel are spot-on for middle grade readers finding their own paths in their world.
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I really enjoyed this book! I didn't connect with the main character as much but I liked the setting and the plot.

Thank you to Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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