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Shadows on Our Skin: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jennifer Johnston
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: In the midst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, a young schoolboy struggles to escape the destruction storming around him

Inside his home in Derry, Joe Logan’s life is ruled by his tormented father; outside, by the tension and violence of the Troubles. Sometimes his father makes him run errands despite the nearby reports of gunfire. Other times his mother, afraid to be alone with her volatile and war-wounded husband, confines Joe to the home. A bright and sensitive young man, Joe finds solace and freedom in writing—a pursuit encouraged by Kathleen Doherty, a young teacher at a nearby school whom he meets and befriends. In Kathleen, Joe has found a friend who understands him, makes him laugh, and allows him to forget his burdens for a time. But everything changes when his brother, Brendan, arrives home from London, newly energized to join the raging fray, and cavalierly bringing the war straight into their home.

Product Description


Masterly (Penelope Lively The Sunday Times)

She has created a world of her own... of such material is the finest literature made (Derek Mahon Irish Times)

A bittersweet demonstration of the impossibility of love... shot through with a luminous magic (John Walsh Independent)

Superbly executed... both enchanted and enchanting (Daily Telegraph)

About the Author

Jennifer Johnston is one of the foremost Irish writers of her, or any, generation. She has won the Whitbread Prize (THE OLD JEST), the Evening Standard Best First Novel Award (for THE CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS), the Yorkshire Post Award, Best Book of the Year (twice, for THE CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS and HOW MANY MILES TO BABYLON?). She was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize with SHADOWS ON OUR SKIN.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 515 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 074726791X
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (24 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #466,989 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book 22 April 2013
I read this in Derry when I was visiting my Grandparents and I loved it from the first page. It is a book which engages the personal and political aspects of Derry in the Troubles, but through the eyes of a young boy. His innocence perhaps makes some of the wider themes a little more difficult to understand if you don't know some of the history surrounding the Troubles, but even as a novel about a boy trying to cope with his stressful home life, this book is wonderful. The fact that
it works on so many different levels is what makes it such a treat to read! Also, as someone who demands realistic and well developed characters, this book provided me with something very satisfactory. Each character has a distinct personality and despite their flaws, it is easy to sympathise with each. When the story reaches its end you will find understanding for all of the characters, though you may not agree with their actions.

From the fear of the British Army and the IRA, to fear of the darker aspects of each characters in the book, there is certainly dynamic realism which well represents the political and private aspects of Ireland in the 70's, and how they connected. I don't want to ruin the plot, so in order to find out how you'll have to read it for yourself! You won't be disappointed!
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Format:Kindle Edition
Originally published in the 1970's when Northern Ireland was in the midst of "The Troubles" where Catholic was pitched against Protestant and Irish against British. British soldiers walked the streets of Northern Ireland, homes were raided on the search for IRA soldiers and supporters. These were turbulent and frightening times for anybody to live in, especially a child.

Shadows on Our Skin is the story of a young dreamer called Joe who lives with his ailing, cranky sick father and harsh, resentful mother in Northern Ireland. He has a gentle soul, the environment does him no favours, he escapes through thinking up and writing poetry but each day he faces the reality of the world he lives in.

This is an atmospheric book, you really are transported back to these difficult times, you can sense the fear, the suspicion, the trauma all around. Joe meets a young teacher and strikes up an unusual friendship with her. It never revealed Joe's age, but I would guess between 12-14 years of age, the teacher is a young women and she chooses to befriend him, at first I was suspicious of this relationship, wondering if it was inappropriate but this teacher really just wants to bring a smile into a young boy's life and I think she is lonely too. She too has her secrets.

Then the spanner in the works turns up, Joe is happy with his new friend, writing poetry for her and feeling someone understands him at last. The "spanner" is his older brother Brendan who returns from working in London back home. Suddenly Brendan and his friend are talking and spending time together and Joe has to deal with a lot of intense emotion around it. He's a really wonderful character, young Joe, I just wanted to give him hugs and tell him it would all be okay.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book 21 Jun. 2014
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Joe Logan is a teenager growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland in the 70s, with the Troubles at their height. Their presence is palpable throughout the novel, whether as a potential danger, a night-time raid or just the sound of gunfire in the distance. But for Joe they are just a way of life and he is more concerned with negotiating life at home and school. Jennifer Johnston’s skill at characterisation is evident here, as Joe, a sensitive boy, comes alive on the page, and his relationship with a lonely teacher who befriends him is both poignant and moving. This is a gentle book set in troubled times, told in Johnston’s trademark spare and understated style and a compelling account of growing up in Northern Ireland. All her characters are lost or lonely or damaged in some way, and the atmosphere is one of hopelessness. A melancholy although not a depressing read and one that vividly conjures up a terrible time in Irish history. I loved this book, as I do all of Johnston’s writing. Published originally in 1977, it isn’t perhaps as good as some of her later novels, but it’s nevertheless a compelling and absorbing story, and the interweaving of the personal and political is skilfully handled. Highly recommended.
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