Monday, December 21, 2015

The Children’s Act -- Ian McEwan (Book Review)

I have actually never read anything by Ian McEwan at this point. I have seen his name pop up on many lists with great reviews so I figured I would give this one a shot.  The book follows Fiona Maye a High Court Judge in London who presides over family court matters.  In the book opening we get a quick look into Fiona’s marriage to Jack, she is fighting with him over wanting to have an affair, but also wanting her to have an affair.  Jack claims that Fiona has been distance to him and not opening up about what is going on with her.  While Jack and Fiona are fighting she begins to focus on the court case in front of her that she is handing down her decision in the morning.  She is reading through her legal decision when Jack finally leaves the apartment to be with the other women; in my mind showing that she is truly distanced herself from the marriage.

Fiona’s first reaction is to have the locks changed immediately although she knows this is not legal  This is where the character of Fiona really begins to take off in my mind you can see that she thinks things through very logically on her court cases from the opening, but spurr of the moment changes the locks.  It make Fiona human and someone that the reader can relate too.

Fiona is brought a case about Adam who is 17 years old and just shy of his 18th birthday.  Adam is a Jehovah’s Witness who does not believe in blood transfusion, but needs this life saving procedure to be done to help with his Leukemia.  Since his family and him are refusing treatment at the hospital the hospital brings the case to Fiona.  Fiona is taken with the case I believe due to the fact that she is fighting with Jack and doesn’t want to face him so she goes to see Adam in the hospital to get his true feelings.

Adam is a very intelligent boy who does know about life and also his religious beliefs.  Fiona determines that he does not know the true ramifications for his disease and orders the blood transfusion.  Adam then begins reaching out to her via letters to thank her as well as wanting to talk.  He takes it so far as to follow her to a meeting at a hotel.  They end up kissing on the lips for a second, but this part sticks out as odd to me and sort of off I thought he was looking at her as a mother figure not a romantic figure.  Fiona learns at the end that Adam got leukemia again and refused the treatment eventually killing him.  Fiona refers to it as his suicide.   

The book is a fast read and one that I could not put down.  I don’t feel like we got a complete answer on the Jack and Fiona relationship, it seems like there were more issues and with the book following Fiona’s thoughts it was more challenging to see the underlying fight between Jack and Fiona.  It seems that another case prior to this one might have set her off or the lack of children or her age or retirement soon, one will never know the true issues.   I personally did not know about Jehovah’s Witnesses that much and to learn about not allowing blood transfusions was interesting.  I also googled bloodless surgery as it seems that would be a very safe alternative in most situations.  It was an interesting read that made me think about making sure you don’t let fights boil to much or they will explode.  To keep things in a relationship open even if you are having not just a bad day but year.  Also,when someone reaches out to you for help you should always listen as you never know if that is the last time they will ask for help.  Asking for help also comes in all shapes and sizes.  This book hits on several large issues about relationships, as well as religion and should not be taken lightly.

I would suggest reading this when you are in an open state of mind.   A main piece that comes across is the importance of openness in longer term relationships.  I would probably not read this book again but I would read more by Ian Mcewan.

My rating 4/5
Author website
Publisher Nan A. Talese
ISBN 9780385539708
Length 240
Format hardback

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