4 out of 4 stars
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An Irish Lullaby by Louis Michael Manzo is a fiction novel that explores the concepts of faith, forgiveness, and personal growth. Although the narrative is presented in third-person omniscient, we primarily follow Father Sean O’Connor, an elderly priest at St. Aloysius Parish in Jersey City, NJ. Nearing the end of his long tenure in the priesthood, Father O’Connor finds himself looking to rekindle his glory days when he felt more needed and more significant in the world.
The book opens with a teenage girl undergoing a late-term abortion at a family planning clinic. Aubrey Fitzgibbon, President of the Board at the clinic, has become a personal support system to the girl and agrees to be present for the procedure. Aubrey’s career, along with her role in the teen's abortion, contravenes Catholic canon law. The plot thickens as Aubrey-a parishioner of St. Aloysius, with important connections to the church-has an unwanted pregnancy of her own to deal with.
Initially, I was unsure about the author's choice for the narrative’s point-of-view but soon discovered its efficiency in unveiling the thoughts and feelings of the characters as they interact with one another. The reader is allowed to nestle into the mind’s eye of the supporting characters which alleviates the need for excessive dialogue. The author does a fantastic job of developing the characters, especially the protagonist, Father O'Connor, who is a very believable miscellany of traits. A truly quirky combination of mischievous and old-fashioned, Father O'Connor’s endearing mannerisms captured my heart at the onset and never let go. The author also has an aptitude for drawing emotion out of the reader; I found myself laughing out loud at times and shedding tears at other times. This book is a story of hope, faith, love, deception, forgiveness, and pain. It is real-life.
I noted a handful of minor grammatical discrepancies, which did nothing to detract from my reading experience. The only area for improvement I can think to offer is to decrease the number of lulls in the story. There are stretches of pages where nothing of interest is happening, which creates a temporary disengagement from the story. These were the times I also felt the author’s writing became slightly more perfunctory.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I enjoyed the writing, the premise, and the character development. If half stars were an option, I would rate this book 3.5 stars because I feel there is a little room for improvement in certain respects, but I feel confident in providing a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
An Irish Lullaby
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