Thursday, January 3, 2019

Book Review: Pecking Order

I can't believe it's been a whole year since I've posted on this blog. I hope to be better in 2019. Thank you for visiting. 

Secrets. Why do we keep them? 

I've been pondering the whys of secrecy after reading Patricia Lee Cunningham's new book Pecking Order: On the Folly of Family Secrets, a story about secrets and the unwitting harm  they can cause.

I've concluded that although there are no pat answers, secret-keeping involves a good deal of fear that becomes all the more urgent when there is orthodox religion with its antiquated and unrealistic moral standards involved. To some, the dogma of how things are supposed to be is sacred as gold and we cannot run the risk of tarnishing that perceived pristine image, especially among those within our religious ethos. We'll be ruined. Shamed. Exiled. Our world will end. This is the crux of Pecking Order a story of one young woman's quest to uncover and understand her family's secrets.

Claire Barley, second daughter to a family steeped in Irish Catholicism, narrates the tragic loss of her older sister and its aftermath. We see, from Claire's perspective how the various family members grieve quietly and not so quietly--her younger brothers--trying to make sense of their loss. Coming of age, Claire's maturing eyes glimpse the ever more evident behavioral inconsistencies of the adults around her and cause the plethora of questions to demand answers. But how to get to the truth without causing more damage? 

Pecking Order will make you rethink the emotional cost of keeping secrets and the misguided priority of religious dogma at the expense of candid, loving relationships. This is a gripping read that feels more like a memoir than fiction. The target reader could be a young adult, but I had no lapse of attention. Patricia is a fantastic wordsmith and as a writer myself, I found her prose both succinct and creative. 

Give this book a read, you all. It's good stuff!

Pecking Order is available on Amazon.

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