The book I have read is named “The Twelfth Day of July”, and is written by the author Joan Lindgard. It describes the way both Catholic and Protestant children in Belfast think about each other. The title is also the date the Protestants march to celebrate king William of Orange’s defeat over the Catholics in the late 16th century.
The two main characters involved are Sadie Jackson, a young Protestant girl, and Kevin McCoy a young protestant boy. Kevin’s father and mother goes away, so their house becomes the Catholic “head-quarter” in a war of principals between the two sides. Sadie sneaks out at nighttime to repay the Catholics for damages they have caused. Since this is a report on the book I don’t see much need to explain any action, except what you’ll find reading this piece of writing. This book is the first in a series of books featuring Sadie and Kevin. The other books are “Across the Barricades”, “Into Exile”, “A Proper Place”, and “Hostages to fortune”.
The whole book involves the countdown for the 12th of July, where Sadie will be marching. On the Protestant side they are decorating their street and playing the drums, whilst on the Catholic side they are bothered by the racked and also provoked by the whole marching. The book starts at the 7th, only five days away from the big event. It passes on chronological until the 12th, which is the last day and chapter of the book.
The story takes place in Belfast on both Protestant and Catholic side. Both groups move in on each other’s territory. The story starts with describing how the Protestants feel about their King Billy, the Catholics, and how they live. The second chapter describes how the Catholics live, and how they feel about the Protestants, and their marching. The two stories melt together as Kevin and a friend is going to destroy a wall painting of king William, which is situated on the Jackson’s house. Sadie and her brother Tommy notice this and start running after them. Sadie ambushes Kevin, and lies on top of him. He seems to enjoy this, as he can easily push her away, but doesn’t do this. Later confrontations between these two occur throughout the entire book. The places presented in this book are mainly the Catholic and Protestant streets of Belfast. We are given a very clear image of the people who live on each side, and how they’re so much alike, both in their way of living and their attitude towards each other. The surroundings affect the characters a lot, in a “troubled” city, where the conflict is always in mind, and the people having great respect and pride of their religion and way of living.
There are a lot of things going on, especially if you think about the short time the book evolves around. In a matter of five days, we get to witness preparations for the 12th, and also “illegal” entries on opposite ground. The book is in this way very easy to read. It doesn’t call for strong emotions or a great engagement. You simply have to sit down and let the novel brush gently through your brain cells. But this is also a very good way of writing a book. The characters and their surroundings slowly get to you. You understand what’s going on, and you get a good relationship with the characters. This I only discovered at the end of the book. The second last chapter describes a confrontation between Catholic and Protestant youth. In this confrontation Brede, Kevin’s sister, gets a brick thrown to her head. Brede is a gentle hearted young catholic girl, who doesn’t want to end up by a kitchen sink, but at the same time tries to please and serve everyone. Sadie and her brother run through the Catholics, and they make two revelations about themselves. They really do care about Kevin and Brede, even though they’re “Micks” (Catholics). The other thing they realize is that they could just as easily have thrown the brick, or been hit by it. And when Brede is out of danger after an emergency operation, on the 12th, Sadie and Tommy take Kevin on a trip to the beach. This lays the way for many new adventures in the coming books. The only thing I can call “action” in this book is when the flying brick hits Brede. I think there are two main causes for this. Number one is that this is a book series, which means that the only thing one book is doing is opening for the next. And this book certainly opens for another one; it’s almost a pure presentation of characters and surroundings. The second is that this is literature mainly for people younger than myself, and I can’t find many challenges in reading and understanding it.
This book is as mentioned, very easy to read. We get introduced properly to only a few characters, whilst others are briefly mentioned. The novel is divided into a total of 17 chapters. Each date has got one chapter, and in addition there are several more chapters for “eventful” days. It’s very difficult to find main parts, due to the simple nature of the novel, but I guess we can call the two first chapters the introduction, where we are informed about the different families. The main part is the entire countdown to the twelfth, and the final part is the two last chapters. Brede is hurt and this brings the children closer.
I believe the main theme of the novel is crossing barricades. We shouldn’t be judgemental just for where people are born, and who their parents are. If we just get to know one another, and not act upon our disbeliefs, the world would be a better place. Of course, the story has many other subjects as well. The mutual attraction between Sadie and Kevin, the way people live in Belfast, the differences between the Catholics and the Protestants, and probably many more. They main problem described is the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The cause of the problem is a deeply rooted hatred and fear between the two sides. It’s not solved in this book, but the author still gives her thoughts and opinions on how to get along. I think the action presented in this book is credible, and if you like mind-wasting literature, you should read the whole series.
But I must admit, it was quite enjoyable reading, no matter how little challenging it is.