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A Swift Pure Cry

Written by Siobhan Dowd

Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 13+ readers General Fiction Recommended Children's eBooks

LoveReading View on A Swift Pure Cry

Thoughtful evocation of life when families fall apart as the main character is on the cusp of adulthood

Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2007.

A superb first novel, beautifully written, deeply moving and full of heartbreak. When Shell Talent’s mother dies everything around her begins to fall to pieces. Tired of looking after her younger brother and sister and bored by the routines of school and church, Shell skips school and hangs around with her friends smoking and cracking jokes and looking for chances that will confirm their growing up. But what follows is not a simple transition into adulthood but the tragedy of Shell’s hidden pregnancy and the stillbirth of her baby. Siobhan Dowd writes without judgement but with enormous sympathy and understanding capturing Shell’s confusion and the hypercritical and chaotic thinking of the small Irish community in which she is growing up.


Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

What the judges’ said: ‘this novel stood out for its entertaining and expertly crafted style: a fluent, lyrical sprightliness which leavens tragic events with humanity and even, in places, humour’

This is beautiful, dramatic writing that deals sensitively with a tough subject. Set in Ireland, the story follows the characters as they stumble through life’s challenges, making the best of tough circumstances. The language is simple, lyrical, and evocative; the storytelling humorous but never sentimental. The take on religion is not predictable and the outcome extraordinarily life affirming.

A Swift Pure Cry Synopsis

After Shell's mother dies, her obsessively religious father descends into alcoholic mourning and Shell is left to care for her younger brother and sister. Her only release from the harshness of everyday life comes from her budding spiritual friendship with a naive young priest, and most importantly, her developing relationship with childhood friend, Declan, charming, eloquent and persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his fortune in America, Shell finds herself pregnant and the centre of a scandal that rocks the small community in which she lives, with repercussions across the whole country. The lives of those immediately around her will never be the same again.

A Swift Pure Cry Press Reviews

'In 2007 Siobhan Dowd was voted one of the twenty-five British writers for the future (only three were children’s writers).  Everybody should read her.'  David Fickling, publisher

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781909531185
Publication date: 30/07/2015
Publisher: Definitions an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers UK
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781849920537
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780385609708
Publication date: 02/03/2006
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781909531185
Publication date: 30th July 2015
Author: Siobhan Dowd
Publisher: Definitions an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers UK
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers
Genres: General Fiction
Recommendations: eBooks

About Siobhan Dowd

'The protagonists in my stories aren’t human rights heroes in the conventional sense. They are ordinary people living in England and Ireland who find extraordinary ways to overcome the difficulties in their lives and for me that’s the essence of any good story: it’s where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.' – Siobhan Dowd 'In 2007 Siobhan Dowd was voted one of the twenty-five British writers for the future (only three were children’s writers). Everybody should read her.' –David Fickling, the author's publisher Siobhan Dowd was born in London to Irish ...

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