Although this book is being touted as “feminist” and “timely” (and don’t get me wrong, it is!), I am so used to reading YA books that have a strong female protagonist that I thought nothing of the fact that the main character is a girl who takes charge of a situation that is going downhill fast and tries to remedy it. Throughout this book, there are scenes of women in daunting situations who are fighting for justice and freedom, and I think no matter what decade it is we can always use more of that in literature and the news.
To some readers, Deena Rys might seem like she’s a little too much, and they might be right. But it became obvious very quickly that Deena’s family is used to being seen as “crazy” or as having bad luck, and sometimes bad situations change a person for the better. All the Bad Apples is a somewhat historical novel, and it also has bits of witchcraft and magical realism mixed in, which is one of the best kinds of books, in my opinion. I loved being swept into the world of the Rys family and being able to get caught up in the creepiness of the story without feeling like the devastating things that were occurring within the pages of this book hit too close to home.
I should mention that Deena is a somewhat closeted lesbian (she’s still trying to work through accepting this herself), so that adds a little bit of intrigue to the story and will probably help interest teen girls if they can relate to the LGBTQ angle, although I felt like it was a somewhat subtle element to this book. This story is narrated by different important characters in different chapters and years and different places in Ireland and England, which thankfully wasn’t too hard to keep track of. And in the end, all of the pieces of the stories seem to fit together and conclude in a satisfactory way. So, if you’re into superstition and complicated families, curses and witchcraft…what are you waiting for?
Review of an Advance Reading Copy provided by the Publisher
Profanity/Language: 4 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 7 derogatory names; 7 scatological words; 27 F-Word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A young woman disappears and is presumed dead; teen girls bully a peer in a brief scene; a brief scene occurs where a teen falls into a body of water and sees a creepy woman that speaks to her; a woman is mentioned to have died from an aneurysm; a woman disappears and it is ruled a suicide as a witness is said to have seen her jump into the sea; ghost stories are told in one brief scene; a scene occurs where a woman has a creepy nightmare; a man stumbles into a patch of muddy ground and is almost pulled under until he is rescued; a family curse is spoken of in several brief scenes; a cottage is mentioned to have been destroyed and the windows broken; a cat is bullied by a group of boys in one brief scene, a boy tries to stop the group and the group then starts kicking the boy; a fire is reported to have burned down a building that had 2 people inside; blood is mentioned to stain bedding and clothing when a woman gives birth; women are mentioned to be abused in a home for unwed mothers, some blood is mentioned as well as beatings and deaths of women and babies that are neglected; suicide is implied in a report of a death; rape is mentioned with no description; several brief reports of pregnant women engaging in hard labor are given; several brief scenes occur where a mention of banshees and odd/creepy things occur.
Sex/Nudity: A brief conversation about sexual orientation occurs; an affair is mentioned; a boy groping a girl; giving birth is mentioned in one brief scene; a book cover is mentioned to depict two girls kissing; an engaged man is reported to meet with a woman and kiss her, she is not his fiancee; women are mentioned to be pregnant outside of wedlock; a brief scene occurs where it is explained how babies are made and how animals breed; a boy is mentioned to touch his girlfriend sexually in one brief report; losing virginity is mentioned and a brief scene occurs where a girl plans to lose her virginity; a minor is mentioned to have had an abortion; two girls are mentioned to kiss in several different brief scenes.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of a loved one; sexual orientation; abandonment; bullying; witchcraft; suicide; loss of a child; abortion.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Minors smoke a joint; underage kids drink with a legal adult; a minor makes plans to acquire alcohol and get drunk; adults smoke cigarettes; an adult is mentioned to drink whiskey; a man drinks copious amounts of wine in one scene; a minor is reported to drink alcohol that might have had drugs or herbs mixed in.