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Where the Heart Should Be by Sarah Crossan - Review

Saturday, December 23, 2023

I saw a tweet way back in October where the publisher was offering proofs of this book to anyone who asked, so I sent an email and was thrilled when a few weeks later I was asked for my address, and then this gorgeous book arrived later that week! I love Sarah Crossan and have read everything she's written, so was really pleased to be gifted this as well. I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes, but was not otherwise compensated for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Like Sarah's other books, this is written in verse. It is set in 1846 in Ireland, in the middle of the potato famine. At the beginning of the book, things aren't so bad. Nell has left school and got a job at the Big House, working as a scullery maid for Lord Wicken. He is a ruthless and harsh landlord of the land that Nell's father works. She lives with her parents and her little brother Owen in a small cottage. Their potato crops are failing and they must sell the oats in order to pay their rent. People are leaving for America or Canada or even Dublin all the time. Nell's friend Rose is falling in love with Eamon. Nell's boss, Maggie, is harsh and cruel to her, and rarely gives her enough to eat. Her family is relying on Nell's wages to pay themselves, but things are getting worse and worse. 

Lord Wicken's nephew, Johnny, is new to Ireland. Little by little, he and Nell get to know each other. She wants to avoid him, but she finds him quite irresistible. Other staff are suspicious and Nell knows what her family and neighbours would think if she and Johnny actually fell in love. But the famine is getting worse and people are getting desperate. 

I did feel that the bits where Nell and Johnny are actually together were a little confusing in parts and I wasn't sure exactly what had occurred between them as the poetry was quite vague. But that's really my only critcism. Thank you Bloomsbury for the book! 

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