New Island, €10.99
Tatty is a book that will haunt you long after you've turned the last page. Set in Dublin of the 1960s and 1970s, it tells the story of a young girl called Caroline (nicknamed Tatty) who is a victim of her parents' alcoholism, and the breakdown of her family life.
The powerful and tragic story unfolds through the eyes of a young child. The book does not preach about the horrors of alcoholism but instead portrays the confusion, the despair and the frustration Tatty and her siblings are forced to endure.
The real strength of 'Tatty' is Christine Dwyer Hickey's amazing ability to step so easily and credibly into the mind of an eight-year-old girl. The language is simple but effective as we watch and understand the events from the perspective of an adult. Tatty is a confused yet hopeful child who, despite vicious treatment from her mother and constant disappointment from her father, just wants to be loved and to belong within her family.
The author vividly evokes the simplicity of childhood, so much so that the reader can identify freely with Tatty despite her disturbing situation. Although the whole story is not autobiographical, Dwyer Hickey, who is the child of an alcoholic herself, drew very much from her own childhood experiences and that shows.
The book is not without its lighter moments, and the humour is much needed to balance out the misery that blights Tatty's life. However, this is not an entertaining tale but a heartbreaking account of a disturbed childhood that makes for compulsive reading.