Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin imprint)
Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season--when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17--is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think. Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: there's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season--whether she's ready or not.
The Accident Season is mysterious and haunting, a mixture of real life and witches and ghost stories, of bumps and bruises and broken bones. Of accidents and impossibilities. Of family and friendship and the things that join us together.
Cara is a thoughtful, quiet girl. Now, near the end of October, she has questions. Questions about her family, about a missing classmate that seems to haunt her photographs, about the accident season. Why? How? In some ways, Cara sees the possibility, the magic, but in other ways she sees them as they are. Takes them at face value. It's those things she doesn't ask questions of. It's those things she needs to ask questions of, even though she's afraid to know the truth.
A significant part of this book is the ways in which the different characters interact with each other, the choices they make and the repercussions that follow. Everyone felt rather realistic and believable. Cara, sister Alice, ex-stepbrother Sam, best friend Bea, mother Melanie, their classmates. There's a non-traditional family, there's a fair amount of teenage drinking and smoking (as the book is set in Ireland, this might have something to do with the more relaxed view of teenage drinking and smoking), there's talk of relationships and sex. Of homework. They all feel like real people with real quirks and hangups and issues.
Imagine if your family had an accident season, a span of time where you could be inundated with cuts and scrapes, broken bones, of even death. How mysterious would that be. How inescapable. Would you spend your days cautious, watchful, wrapping yourself and your life in bubble wrap? Or live recklessly and full of passion? Would you want to know why, would you search deep in your family's past in order to earn the truth? Would they still be accidents?
This book reads as very visual, descriptive and realistic. The sound of autumn leaves crunching under boots, the chill of the river water, the smell of cigarette smoke. As the book goes on the story turns dark, rich. Lush with impossibility and potential, with secrets revealed and finally spoken aloud, no longer kept locked away in the corners of their hearts.
There's a subtle sense of something magical in this book. The line that separates reality and fantasy is smudged, like a thumb rubbed across a line of charcoal, until one seeps across into the other and you can't tell what side you're on anymore. For those looking for more magical realism, for books sort of similar to The Walls Around Us (I would say this is more grounded in reality), I urge you to give this book a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title from Penguin Random House Canada.)