Review of Breda’s Island

Breda’s Island Breda’s Island
by Jessie Ann Foley
Intermediate, Middle School    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    256 pp.   g
7/22    978-0-06-320772-1    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-320775-2    $10.99

Breda didn’t believe her single mother would really send her from Chicago to Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula for the summer if she got caught stealing again, but her theft of a classmate’s gym shorts earns Breda a visit to the grandfather she’s never met. Granda is the epitome of the elderly taciturn farmer, and although he at first seems as unenthused as Breda is about the arrangement, he slowly warms up to her. Breda settles in, exploring the village and finding friends on a Gaelic football team, and she wonders if she might also meet the father who’s never been part of her life. When a health crisis waylays Granda, Breda is able to both take charge and rely on the community she’s developed, putting her newfound confidence to work and expanding her definition of family. She also develops a new appreciation for her mother, an undocumented immigrant who has spent years working for others and is finally able to start her own business. Foley does an excellent job of building the Irish setting—with the help of Granda’s role as a traditional storyteller. Foley’s forthright approach to puberty and periods, which are among Breda’s experiences, is refreshing. This is a quiet book, with an emotionally charged conflict that often simmers beneath the surface of the page, made possible by the authentic and fully realized characters.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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