Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Breeda Looney Steps Forth is the debut novel from author Oliver Sands. It takes us to a rural seaside village in Ireland, where Breeda Looney has been caring for her aged and dying mother. When her mother passes, Breeda is left all alone and lost in a sea of memories and regret, with only her cat and her formidable Aunt Nora for company. Whilst Breeda is clearing out her mother’s belongings, she discovers something that will open the door to a Pandora’s box of the past and potentially unlock a secret that has been kept from her for years. Breeda’s father was apparently drowned when she was just twelve but this new evidence suggests that it may have been a lie, he may well be still alive and, worse than that, may think Breeda doesn’t care about him as she never kept in touch. Breeda begins a journey that will take her to London in search of her long-lost father but little does she realize that the trove of secrets, lies, and half-truths she may uncover on her way could change her life forever.
Breeda Looney Steps Forth is, at its core, a story of family, of family values and how we all identify ourselves and our relationships by what has gone before. Oliver Sands has done a superb job of bringing the character of Breeda Looney to life. It was so easy to identify with her struggles, especially as they pertained to her “beloved” Aunt Nora. The author continually raised the question of nurture vs nature as it applies to our feelings and our perceptions of ourselves. The continuing theme of “family above all else” was a keynote to this story and it was expanded and built on exceptionally well through the plot twists and turns. Breeda was indeed a character that many people would be able to identify with and say either, “yep, that’s me” or “oh yeah, I know someone just like that.” That’s really what made this story so readable and so enjoyable. We can all identify with the identity struggle Breeda goes through, to some extent. That familiarity and the author’s effortless and easy-reading writing style make this the perfect book for a Sunday afternoon read by the fire. A great first effort and I look forward to more from this talented newcomer.