Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Trespasses (2022) is an impressive debut novel by Louise Kennedy, set in the 1970s during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The novel is from the perspective of Cushla, a young teacher at a Catholic school on the outskirts of Belfast, where the acts of violence that Belfast-area residents experience on a daily basis, usually in the form of shootings, beatings, and bombs, are recited by Cushla's students every day. Cushla also works part-time at her family's bar, where she meets and soon begins a risky affair with a Protestant lawyer. The affair inevitably has a tragic end, but to me the more compelling storyline was Cushla's relationship with her student Davy and his mixed Catholic-Protestant family. Davy gets tormented at school because of his mixed family, and Cushla tries to help where she can, putting herself and her family in danger and economic peril because of this. The violence in the book can be shocking, but it shows how regular people living in a war zone deal with constant violence on a daily basis. Trespasses is a blend of literary fiction and historical fiction, making it a more challenging read but definitely worth it. I recommend listening to this clip of Louise Kennedy reading from the novel to get a feel for how the accents sound.

Written by Liz M., Circulation