Book Review: The Children Act

At the beginning of January, I made a decision that I was going to try to read three books during the month. I intended to finish two of them and make a dent in the third. The first two books are novels; the third is a historical analysis of the Russian Revolution.

I haven’t done well with this goal…until today. This morning, I finally finished reading Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. It was, as all Waugh books are to me, brilliant. Waugh has the amazing gift of allowing me to slip into another world, a world of laughter and humor and satire. It’s not necessarily a happy-go-lucky place, but it’s a place where I can laugh. And I always enjoy visiting that place.

The second book I wanted to read was The Children Act by Ian McEwan. I enjoy McEwan as a writer. I find him to be engaging and insightful.  His work forces me to think, and that’s good for me. So, this evening, I decided to start reading the book while I cooked some rice and then I kept reading while I was eating…which was NOT my original plan. And then I was still engaged by the book, so I sprawled out on my stone dining room floor and finished reading the book. Below you will see David Tennant demonstrating how I read the book.

Image from Pinterest

The book was thought-provoking to say the least. While I’m not personally opposed to blood transfusions, I can understand the struggle between faith and medicine. It’s never been a struggle that I’ve personally faced-and I hope it never is, but I can see how it is a complex issue. How do medical professionals handle a situation in which a patient has religious objections to the recommended course of medical treatment? How does the law play into that situation? How does that impact people outside of the professional sphere?

That it the realm the book explores. And it explores it in a brilliant, compelling fashion. I read the book in less than two hours because I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen. What would happen to Adam, the ill child? What would happen to Fiona, the judge? How would all of this impact Fiona psychologically?

It’s not a hard read in the technical sense, but it is a good read. The thing which I most adore about Ian McEwan is that his writing demands that I think, and this novel was no exception. It definitely left me with some questions to ponder, but that (to me) is good. That’s what a book should do, and that’s what McEwan does best. I highly recommend it.


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