With a cover as incendiary as its subject matter, Map of Ireland by Stephanie Grant is a novel that brings an historical event of national significance to the insular world of 1974 South Boston.
High school junior Ann Ahearn can’t find a comfortable place to fit in at her school, in her family, on the streets of her Southie neighborhood. She feels an upheaval inside and has been known to express herself by setting fires. A new French teacher, hailing from Paris but of African descent, sets off a miasma of emotions in Ann. Her staunchly Catholic family do not support the busing of black children to their own neighborhood, let alone a French teacher with mysterious political ties.
As Ann navigates the rocky terrain of city politics, the Irish-American community, and the truth about herself, she comments in an honest voice on the history unfolding around her and the inevitable changes to her family, town, and perceptions.
This second novel from Stephanie Grant has strong, complex characters in challenging and disturbing social and political situations. Readers will find much to discuss in this short novel that moves at a brisk pace to a surprising, but satisfying conclusion.