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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Mine to Carry: An Irish Woman's Passage through Forbidden Pregnancy by Christine Mulvey is a poignant, heartbreaking memoir of one woman’s journey through an unwanted pregnancy against the backdrop of a culture that condemns pregnancy outside wedlock. Twenty-two-year old Christine is full of life with a strong passion to explore the world. That is why she travels to India, fascinated by a sense of freedom quite different from the experience of being connected to her family and culture. She believes she can make a difference in the world, and she can’t do so if she remains attached to her traditional values. When she returns home, her fiancé, Marc, leaves her. And she discovers she is pregnant. It’s taboo to be pregnant without being married. This is a disgrace to her family. To conceal her pregnancy, she travels to England where she takes up a job as a nanny. This memoir documents her personal battles and her struggle with her pregnancy. She makes the difficult choice of keeping her child, but she will suffer the pain of separation and loss.
Mine to Carry is a gripping memoir told in a lyrical style. The first thing the reader notices is the protagonist’s sense of freedom when she offers beautiful views of her village and places she’s been, comparing herself to a bird flying over these places. The lyrical nature of the prose captivated me and the setting comes out beautifully through the narrative — the mauve mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula, the bays, the blackened rocks rough with orange lichen, the springing heather of mountain bogs, the corrie lake the color of lapis, rusted midlands and the limestone towns of Tullamore, Carlow, and Kildare. The author writes with vivid images about India, poor but beautiful. But what is most captivating is the ingenuity with which she writes about her emotions, about her relationship with herself, one which is flawed by the cultural lens she used to see herself over the years, the dilemmas she gets caught in and the difficult choices she had to make. This is a beautiful memoir that will appeal to women who neglect themselves because of cultural demands and expectations from loved ones. In documenting her journey towards self-conquest and self-love, Christine Mulvey offers lessons on making choices that help readers connect deeply with themselves and their world.