Book Review: Fractured


Title: Fractured
Author: Clár Ní Chonghaile
Published: 1st Feb 2016
Publisher: Legend Press

Many thanks to Clár Ní Chonghaile and Legend Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Peter Maguire has been kidnapped in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. He does not know where he is or what is going to happen to him. The journalist is filled with fear and, as the days go by, this dread of the unknown is shot through with remorse for the mistakes of his past. Peter’s mother Nina comes to Somalia to wait for her son’s release. His plight forces her to relive another trauma—the fatal shooting in Liberia of Shaun Ridge, a young photographer she once loved, and Peter’s real father. Abdi, a Somali teenager working with Peter’s captors strikes a tenuous friendship with the prisoner based on a shared feeling of captivity. He decides to help Peter escape. Together they set off into the barren vastness of a land filled with danger. Three people must journey into one of the world’s most dangerous places, the human mind, to answer the question: are we ever truly free?

Wow. Hard-hitting, revealing and unreservedly thought provoking, Fractured is an intense political thriller which covers themes of captivity, terrorism and jihadism. Absolutely relevant to current issues with extremist acts affecting countries around the world.

The narrative is split in to three points of view following Peter, his mother Nina and Abdi, the Somalian teenager who has grown up around violence and death. It’s quite stunning how much depth Chonghaile goes to and how it pulls you in to connect to each character on different levels. There are moments captured which resonated so strongly with me they took my breath away. I could imagine specific scenes with an unnerving and frankly, brutal clarity.

‘Without life, we are nothing more than a pile of rags, good for nothing. I looked up and the vultures were already circling. They too know that what we do is always the same. They know they must just bide their time. In the end, someone always dies.’

It was heart breaking to see such a convincing portrayal of Somalia, and how “living” includes death and bloodshed as part of daily life with people resigned to their fate. I knew extremely little about Somalia before reading Fractured and I was fascinated to learn about AMISOM and Al-Shabaab; I’m shocked that my awareness was so minimal.

This story could not be more captivating, I was pulled head first in to the story of Peter and his openness about mistakes he has made throughout his life. I was able to explore the idea of humanity and become a witness to how circumstances change an individual. Peter has made some incredibly selfish decisions and he bares his soul to reveal his flaws and focus on how he could right the wrongs if he is given a chance at life.

I was completely engaged with Abdi, whose honest and at times blunt account of life in Somalia had me riveted. Chonghaile does brilliantly with throwing you in to this unfamiliar, volatile world where you can almost feel the fear around you. Abdi clutched at my heartstrings and I found it difficult to read about the things he has witnessed and the grief he has had to deal with on his own. As the story progressed I felt that I was alongside Abdi, learning about his past, his lifestyle and the special relationship between him and his mother. Abdi is not a character I will forget in a hurry.

This is a brilliant debut novel which is so clever in its approach. Well-written, pacey and unforgettable.

four and a half star

About the Author

Clár grew up in the West of Ireland, the eldest of seven children. She left Ireland aged 19 to work as a graduate trainee journalist at Reuters in London. Clár has worked
as a journalist for over 20 years and has lived in Madrid, Paris, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.

Whilst in Nairobi, she freelanced for the Guardian and travelled to Somalia to cover the African Union’s battle against al Shabaab and the plight of thousands of displaced people.

Fractured was published today 1st February – what are you waiting for?! Go go go!