A Book Review: My Mother's Children: An Irish family secret and the scars it left behind.

       Annette Sills is a contemporary fiction writer and a member of Manchester Irish writers. Her short stories have been longlisted and shortlisted in a number of competitions including the Fish Short Story Prize, the Telegraph Short Story Club, and Books Ireland Magazine.  Her second novel, My Mother's Children: An Irish family secret and the scars it left behind., touches on the controversial mother and baby homes in Ireland through a daughter's journey in discovering her mother's past that led her to understand her more and find someone important in her life. 

       After her mother's death, Carmel Doherty went back to their childhood house to clear it up. Going through the things, she remembered the memories of her mother, her late brother, her voice, and her manic episodes. "First her voice and now her smell had gone from me." As she went along, she found a letter from her late father addressed to her mother, Tess;  a letter that made her question everything she knew about her. 

       While she was searching for answers by discovering articles about mother and baby homes and asking her relatives and other people who knew her mother when she was in her teens, her relationship with her husband and best friend was under a strain. Carmel went depressed when everything around her was shattering, which was necessary for her to become whole again. 


       This book is a memorable one for me. I always think mother-children relationships are sometimes complicated stemming from the inner struggles of mothers.  Sills' way of telling the story made me identify with Carmel who was brave to dive into the past of her mother no matter how shocking and heavy it was.

       Further, Sills managed to string together the events and lives of the characters, building up exciting points in the story. I gasped when an important person was revealed towards the end.

       This book also makes me appreciate mothers more; mothers' mental health is very crucial to the total well-being of humanity. It's heartbreaking to know what the mothers and their children went through at the controversial mother and baby homes run by nuns in Ireland. My heart goes out to the mothers who were abused and deprived of their right to be with their children and to the babies and other children who were deprived of life and mother's love. 

Discussion Questions 

1. How do you interpret the title?
2. How does Tess influenced Carmel growing up?
3. How does Carmel's anxiety affect her relationships?
4. What is your take on mother and baby homes?
5. Who do you think should be responsible for the injustice inflicted on the mothers and children in these institutions?

Further Information

Title: My Mother's Children: An Irish family secret and the scars it left behind.
Author: Annette Sills 
Genre: Historical Irish Fiction
Publisher: Poolbeg Press; 1st edition (March 24, 2021)
Publication Date: March 24, 2021
Print length: 294 pages