The book: Bill Furlong owns a company that delivers coal to the residents of a small town in Ireland in the 1980s. Furlong (as he’s mostly referred to in the book) is married, has 5 daughters, and had an unusual upbringing (an unmarried mother, he was raised by her and her employer and doesn’t know his father–not an easy childhood in mid-century Ireland). One day, when he’s delivering coal to the local convent, Bill finds something that disturbs him and forces him to make a life-changing decision.
Why I read it: A friend recommended this to me. I wasn’t going to read it, because I usually don’t like literary fiction. But she insisted that I would love it, and threw in that it was really short, besides. She was right on both counts (it was 79 pages long on my tablet).
How I felt about it: Well, I loved it. I was surprised by some of Furlong’s choices, but they were realistic. He wrestles with an enormous question: Do we, simply by being alive on Earth at the same time, owe certain things to the people around us? Or the people who will come after us, or even the ones who came before us? Furlong would prefer to just continue with his average existence, raising his children and just getting through each day. But when he’s confronted by a situation that forces him to consider the question above, he has to think about the assumptions he’s starting from. He begins to examine what he knows of his mother and his childhood, and what he knows about the Catholic Church. I found this book to be quite affecting, and I’m glad I read it.