All the Bad Apples
By: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Published By: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. 'This will be really embarrassing,' I kept saying to my family, 'when she shows up at the door in a week or two.'
When Deena's wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears - presumed dead - her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It's just another bad thing to happen to Deena's family. Only Deena refuses to believe it's true.
And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family's blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions - but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse's roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family's rotten past - or rip it apart forever.
First Thought After Finishing: I can’t believe stories like these still happen for so many girls.
Irish history wrapped into a mystery? Yes please! But this story comes with so much more than a mystery infused with hints of magic. It’s a story of overcoming the past, of defying societal conventions and expectations, and of being proud of who you are.
Deena has been raised by her older sister to be a “nice, normal girl” so that she can escape the Rys family curse. It’s what her sister expects, it’s what her father expects, and it’s what she wants—except for when she’s with her other sister, Mandy. A wild enigma, Mandy offers Deena a glimpse into something that is more than a “nice, normal life.” Until the day that Mandy disappears, and everyone believes her to be dead—everyone except Deena. A letter that Mandy left behind sends Deena on a quest to discover the truth. Along with her best friend, she finds new people who also have a part in her history. But this is one story that doesn’t end the way that anyone was expecting.
From the beginning of this book, something felt just a bit unsettled, which made me dive right into the story to figure out what was going on. Mandy was an intriguing character, and Deena’s tenacious belief that Mandy was alive had me convinced as well. The story unfolded in alternating perspectives—the present, with Mandy’s letters, and flashbacks of the family history. The flashback scenes were both fascinating and horrifying, knowing that they were loosely based on reality. In many ways, they were like traffic accidents—hard to watch but impossible to look away from. In all honesty, the historical scenes were more compelling than the present tense, but piecing together the puzzle was so intriguing that I finished the book within a few hours.
The cast of characters was diverse and felt like a group that would be fun to hang out with. The adventure bound them all in a way that made them feel like they always belonged together. I especially liked Cale’s character. She was unapologetically herself in a way that was inspirational. It would be interesting to see a spinoff story involving her and Deena. The family members, on the other hand, often left a lot to be desired. Then again, that was probably the point.
This book inspired a lot of emotions, and not all of them were positive. But I am so glad that a book like this exists, because it should cause a reaction. Anyone reading this should want better for women and children all over the world. I can only hope that this book finds its way into the hands of people who need it—into the hands of anyone who has ever been considered a “bad apple.”
All the Bad Apples is the first book I’ve read by Moira Fowley-Doyle, but it won’t be the last. I can’t wait to see what adventure she creates and what emotions she inspires next.
Most Memorable Aspect: The haunting reality of the flashback scenes.
Moïra is half-French, half-Irish and lives in Dublin. Her first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and received widespread critical acclaim. Her second, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award.
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