This was our last book club of the year and it was truly a great way to finish our LGBTQ+ reads of 2019! In November we read All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle and we had lots of fantastic feedback about it. The book is a contemporary YA magical realism with historical chapters too…I won’t say too much about that but it’s a great mix of genres! It was a great read and the first I, and many others at book club, have read of her books (excluding short pieces in anthologies).
The protagonist of All the Bad Apples is Deena, the youngest of 3 sisters who is just turning 17. She comes out to her sister and is currently being bullied by girls at her school amidst rumours she is a lesbian. When one of Deena’s sisters goes missing she ends up following a trail of letters and clues which speak of the curse put upon her family – the curse of the bad apples.
The queer representation was loved by everyone across the board. Interestingly, most of the books we have read in recent months have been more ‘lowkey’ in representation; by this, I mean that the sexuality hasn’t been a main part of the story and we haven’t had coming out scenes etc. However, this was a great book that tackles sexuality head on. The fantastic thing about this book is it has multiple issues ranging from the 1800s til present day and it comments upon these brilliantly. It also goes through struggles, particularly for women, throughout Ireland specifically and talks about the laws surrounding things such as being part of the LGBTQ+ community. The way this was handled was excellent and nothing was ever treated insensitively.
The majority of ratings for this book were really high. It was mainly given 5 stars and a couple of 4/4.5 stars. Most people loved the book and said the characters were fab, the balance of magical realism in the contemporary world was great and loved the story generally.
LGBTQ+/Queer themes and representation in All the Bad Apples
We had a fantastic chat about sexuality and how it was represented. Deena’s feelings around coming out and the struggles as a queer person in her society were really well written and brilliantly explored. It’s always fab to read such positive representation, especially experiences of queer women as we don’t have enough books about this. This was so different to anything any of us have read too!
“I thought it was honest, especially as children can be cruel, especially in an all-girls school. It also seemed natural, especially the interactions between Deena and Cale.” – Beth – Twitter | Instagram
“It felt v natural & allowed us to get a lot of different points of time across the ages on how queer people are percieved. But it also felt v wholesome, you could still see how happy the queers were.” – Lauren – Twitter | Instagram
“This book explores sexuality in a way that feels completely unique: it is symbolised throughout the book as a curse (a curse of the “bad apples” of the family) that must be broken, but is ultimately overcome and the characters feel stronger for it. It’s interesting to see the different LGBT relationships throughout the history of the family, and how several generations of intense trauma have effected their views of sexuality today. It’s definitely one that makes you think and stays with you long after finishing the book.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
“The themes and representation in All the Bad Apples is excellent, written beautifully and makes you feel a lot of things.” – Lois – Twitter | Instagram
“Really good! Very queer book. I liked the fact that the effect of Catholic school was shown, and a historic look at how queer women were treated as well.” – Caitlin – Twitter | Instagram
“I thought it was really nice and I enjoyed seeing a different sort of modern reaction to someone coming out. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Ireland and how religion and laws affect LGBTQ+ people but it was so interesting to read about and see a different side to it than what I’m used to.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
We also ask for any other general opinions on the book, reasons for the star rating, etc. and this is something we always chat about at Book Club with everyone too. It’s always great for us to see what people generally think of the books each month.
“Loved it and would like a bull in my lounge. It’s a good eye opener for someone wanting to look into the untold histories of women in Ireland.” – Beth – Twitter | Instagram
“Bull book has joined owl book on my little shrine!!! Thats how much i enjoyed it.” – Lauren – Twitter | Instagram
“Just so good!!! I love a good that makes you think, and this one definitely does.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
“I need more witchy books like this please! I flew right through this book and need more just like this!” – Lois – Twitter | Instagram
“It was a really impactful book to read, and Moira’s writing is always so immersive.” – Caitlin – Twitter | Instagram
“I loved the magical realism elements and how it really left me wondering if there was magic at all or if it was all going to turn out that there was no magic at all I loved the sort of mystery aspect of the story too and all the characters going on this treasure hunt to find out about what happened to Deena’s sister. it really kept me interested and I was so intrigued to find out how it would all pan out.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
Our next official book club date is Thursday 30 January 2020 at 7pm, Chapter One Books in Manchester! We aren’t having a December book so you have two months to read the next book. Our next book is Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. Let us know if we will see you there and as always, a huge thank you to everyone who supports the book club both in person and online. And have a fantastic Christmas (reading Girl Mans Up we hope)!