The Children Act (book) by Ian McEwan – Review

The Children Act is the thirteenth novel by British author Ian McEwan. Published in 2014, the book has recently been adapted into a film of the same name. Here is the review of the novel.

The Children Act features Fiona Maye, a judge of the British High Court in the Family Section. Fiona is going through a marital crisis and, instead of facing it, decides to find refuge in her next case, that of Adam Henry, a young boy suffering from leukemia who refuses the transfusion that could save his life because Jehovah’s Witness. Adam is seventeen and nine months old, so he is still legally a minor, but still for a short time and one cannot ignore his “desire” to die in order not to break the rules of his belief. Fiona has a very complicated case for her, which choice will she make? You will discover it by reading.

I loved the book. It is the second book of McEwan that I read – the first was Enduring Love, which is still a good book – and I liked it even more than the other. I think because I appreciated McEwan’s prose, which is still very complex and refined, but not artificial, something that I thought was a bit like reading Fatal Love.

This novel, however, I found it stylistically more realistic and very captivating. The Children Act is like a thriller, is a real page-turner, but at the same time it’s a novel not of genre and of great literature.

McEwan’s novel deals with quite particular issues: religion, life, death, art and love. And I stress the term deals, especially for religion. Despite being an atheist, there is no desire to denigrate Jehovah’s Witnesses, but only to treat their religion grappling with a particular situation. The union between life and death has been outlined to the great with the figure of Adam, a seventeen year old boy with a great artistic talent who has all his life ahead and yet has chosen to die.

Art has a great weight in this novel. Adam is talented, Fiona also, and enjoys playing classical music to escape his London life. Art is presented to us as life, as pathos, as desire, and also as love. And Adam is losing all that.

The Children Act is a novel that I recommend a lot, it is short, you can read it in a short time, but it is very thick. And do not miss the film with Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci. I will definitely go see it, and you?

Rating: 81/100

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The Children Act US:


Enduring Love US:


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