Book Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan

My Rating: ♥♥♥

The Children ActThe Children Act was the first book by Ian McEwan that I’ve read. I often see people reading his books on the subway and out and about, so I was happy that my book club assigned this one for our next meeting.

Fiona Maye is an almost-sixty-year-old judge in the family court. She has a dry and professional air about her, including when her husband decides to ask for an open marriage. While her marriage is crumbling around her, she throws herself into her work on a particularly difficult case of a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness boy who is refusing a life-saving blood transfusion.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get into this one. In fact, the best thing about the book, in my opinion, was how quickly I got through it and onto my next read. There was something dry and cardboard-like about the characters and I found that I couldn’t identify with any of them, even though they were all facing difficult and interesting situations in their lives.

I would have really liked some more vulnerability on the part of the judge and protagonist. At times, it felt like McEwan kind of knew that she must be having these deep emotions, but he couldn’t quite describe what they were.

It also felt like nothing really happened in the book. I mean, sure, we jump right in with the dissolving marriage and discussion about her husband’s affair, but somehow the writing just didn’t draw me in.

I like to give authors a second (or third, or fourth) chance, so I will probably read more Ian McEwan soon. He seems so popular, so I wonder if it was just this particular story that didn’t do it for me.


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