René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years. She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.
We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René!Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd, is one of my favorite books this year. It is the story of a young man trying to decide what is right in a world filled with instability. Fergus and his uncle are digging for peat when they find a child's body curled up deep in the bog. As the excavation of the iron age body begins, and the story of the girl makes itself known to him in a series of dreams, Fergus finds himself dealing with a life filled with problems: It is Ireland in the 1980's, in the middle of the “troubles,” his older brother is on a hunger strike and likely dying in jail and his parents are arguing about whether he has the right to kill himself for something he believes in. His uncle may be involved in something dangerous to himself and to everyone around him, and Fergus himself is up to his chin in what could be a conspiracy to kill innocent people. Not only that, but he is fast forming a dangerous friendship with a boy who guards the border between the Catholics and the Protestants.
Bog Child was an absolutely riveting read. Ages 12 and up. (David Fickling Books, $16.99.)