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Review: The Barra Boy by Iain Kelly

August 10, 2022

About the Book:

1982. Thirteen-year-old Ewan Fraser is sent to the remote island of Barra, off Scotland’s west coast, to stay with his aunt and uncle.

Resigned to a monotonous summer of boredom, he is befriended by local girl Laura Robertson; together they explore the golden beaches and rocky coves of the idyllic island.

But a dark secret that connects Laura to the mysterious outcast Mhairi Matheson and her son, Billy, is hidden beneath the tranquil surface…

A secret that threatens to tear the small community apart.

Forty years later, Ewan returns to confront the truth about the formative summer of his adolescence, and finally learn the truth about Laura and the boy from Barra.

My Thoughts:

This was a gripping read. A historic mystery set in 1982 that is both subtle and emotional as little hints of a small remote island town’s secrets weave their way through the story told through the eyes of Ewan, a 53 year old man and his 13 year old self.

At 13, Ewan is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle on a remote island off Scotland’s west coast – Barra.

At 53, Ewan returns to Barra to come to terms with what he experienced all those years ago.

The story begins with 53 year old Ewan coping, as we all have done, with the current pandemic and what it has done to our lives. When Ewan spots a ghost from his past it throws him into a desperate need to understand a mystery from his youth and sends him back to the island of Barra. A place he hasn’t been since 1982.

Often times, as I was reading author Iain Kelly’s words, I found myself picturing walking along the very streets or beaches he describes, smelling the island air, feeling the sea spray on my face, and aching from riding a terribly old bike along bumpy roads. I could hear every conversation. The mood and setting are deliciously detailed. This is a slow burn mystery that is unravelled as Ewan explores the island with his new friend Laura. The historical aspects of 1982 are nicely drip fed into the tale as we experience Barra through Ewan’s young eyes. An emotional story set in a town where secrets abound. This is an thoroughly enjoyable read as you become immersed in 1982 and young Ewan’s life and older Ewan’s need to come to terms with what he experienced.


From → Reviews

  1. Reblogged this on Iain Kelly and commented:
    A wonderful review of ‘The Barra Boy’ from Laurie Bell on her blog ‘Rambles, Writing and Amusing Musings’. Check out what she thought.

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