When I was given the opportunity to read and review this book, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Key words in the blurb like ‘out of his head on acid’, ‘abusive relationship’ and ‘lost a fortune’ were intriguing yet left me wondering if it was a book I would be able to ‘get into’.
So, one morning after breakfast, I sat on the sofa with a large mug of tea and opened Red Dirt. 150 pages later, I emerged – rather reluctantly as I wanted to carry on reading – but dogs needed walking, washing needed doing and children needed attention. However, it didn’t take me long to finish the rest of it!
Red Dirt is a fast moving tale centred around three Irish migrants – Fiona, Murph and Hopper – and it is divided into three sections told from three different perspectives (first person, second person then third). They flee to Australia following the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. Their stories are moving because they all have roots in the loss, confusion and hopelessness experienced by a generation of young people when their homeland seems to have nothing to offer them. The novel is certainly one about trying to find yourself, yet not being fully aware that you are trying to do that. It’s about chasing the dream, and sometimes almost catching a glimpse of it, yet not quite reaching it. It’s a novel of sensual experiences, whether strange or downright disturbing. And it’s about the human condition of wanting to matter, needing to matter, to someone, anyone, even if just for a moment.
The author is certainly one to watch. This is a fantastic debut and certainly bodes well for her future novels.
In summary, Red Dirt is raw. It is brutally honest. And it is, at times, appropriately elegiac.
*Many thanks to the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*