Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

The Bradley's see the world as a place where miracles are possible, and where nothing is more important than family. This is their story.
 
It is the story of Ian Bradley—husband, father, maths teacher, and Mormon bishop—and his unshakable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife, Claire, her lonely wait for a sign from God, and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with tragedy.
 
And it is the story of their children: sixteen-year-old Zippy, experiencing the throes of first love; cynical fourteen-year-old Al, who would rather play football than read the Book of Mormon; and seven-year-old Jacob, whose faith is bigger than a mustard seed—probably bigger than a toffee candy, he thinks—and which he’s planning to use to mend his broken family with a miracle.
 
Intensely moving, unexpectedly funny, and deeply observed, A Song for Issy Bradley explores the outer reaches of doubt and faith, and of a family trying to figure out how to carry on when the innermost workings of their world have broken apart.


I would challenge anyone to read this book and not  to be deeply moved by it. It is a heart searing evocation of the grief felt by a family whilst trying to maintain an equilibrium with their faith.

I knew very little about the Mormon church prior to reading this book and it was very informative. It came as no surprise to me to learn that the author grew up in a Mormon  family as she writes with real insight and it shows that she has first hand knowledge.

Every character in this novel is expertly drawn and easy to engage with.  I went through a tumult of emotions with them experiencing the grief felt in its individual way by all of them. I felt moments of frustration and anger with Ian's character, pain for Claire's and my heart bled for little Jacob and his brother and sister. I think an author who can create such feelings in her reader is very skilled and as a debut novelist is one to watch out for.

This is a fantastic read written with insight and intelligence. I do not think I am being preemptive by saying that I will be surprised if this book does not make into into my Top Ten reads of 2016 as it will need to be quite some book to knock this one down the list. Do let me know what you think of this book and whether you enjoyed it as much as I did.

ISBN:  978-0099591870

Publisher: Windmill Books

About the Author: 

Carys Bray was brought up in a devout Mormon family. In her early thirties she left the church and replaced religion with writing. She was awarded the Scott prize for her d├ębut short story collection Sweet Home. A Song for Issy Bradley is her first novel. She lives in Southport with her husband and four children.