Staff Review: Grand

by Noelle McCarthy
Review by Harriet

Brave, brutal, hilarious and heartbreaking. Noelle McCarthy’s memoir follows her relationship with her mother Carol: from her childhood in 1980s Ireland, to the life Noelle has made for herself in New Zealand, and her eventual return to Ireland when Carol becomes ill. With unflinching honesty and intensity, Noelle confronts the ways in which alcohol and unspoken generational hurt haunt their relationship, and the compassion and strength it takes to prevent these forces from engulfing it entirely.

It could all easily become overwhelmingly chaotic and sad – there are certainly bleak moments and tender depictions of clumsy human love that make your chest sore – but the writing has such an irresistible lightness and vitality that, coupled with the family knack for dialogue and rhythm, you find yourself laugh-snorting through the tears. I know I’ll read this again and again, it’s crackling with life!