James D(ouglas) Forman Paula Todisco - Essay

Paula Todisco

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The futility and tragedy of the conflict in Northern Ireland are eloquently expressed in this simple, direct, powerful story [A Fine, Soft Day]…. The adults that surround [Brian] are skillfully presented as a microcosm of the divergent forces that rend the city…. Grandfather Seamus reminisces about Ireland's past glories, and martyrs; Brian's father runs away; Mary, his mother, seeks solace in prayer. For the children life in Belfast presents fewer alternatives: Brian's older brother, influenced by Rory, becomes involved in terrorist activities while his younger brother, Kevin, wakes up in terror at night and can not remember what peace was like. Meanwhile, the reader follows the progress of a gun that will weave its way from Vietnam towards a fateful and fatal destination. The plot and subplot are joined convincingly to illustrate the uselessness of violence. Unlike many adult novels on this subject, the IRA is not romanticized, but neither is it blamed for all of Northern Ireland's troubles. Rather, a balanced treatment shows how many forces contribute to the hostile climate, and how nearly everyone loses in the wave of mindless terrorism that results. With vivid characterizations, convincing dialogue and a tightly controlled plot, this is a superior novel that should be assured a place in all young adult collections. (pp. 70-1)

Paula Todisco, "'A Fine, Soft Day'," in Young Adult Cooperative Book Review Group of Massachusetts, Vol. 5, No. 4, April, 1979, pp. 70-1.