Well written and, at times, almost unbearably moving, A Song For Issy Bradley follows the Liverpudlian Bradley family as they try to rebuild their shattered world in the weeks after a family tragedy – the death of a child. Sometimes the coping mechanisms they employ are sensitive and effective, sometimes they are totally inappropriate, but the added element in a novel where the actual story has been told many times before is that the Bradley family are Mormons.
I know relatively little about the Mormon faith and found the context it adds to the novel fascinating. The challenges their belief presents to each of the family add intriguing elements and written as it is by Carys Bray, who herself was brought up in a strict Mormon family, the story has the flavour of knowledge and experience. The characters are well drawn and believable, whether it be Issy’s mother who is totally laid low by her grief, Issy’s father devout and completely ommitted to his faith, Issy’s siblings Alma, Zippy and the extremely lovable Jacob who prays for miracles, or indeed 4 year old Issy herself who, although she makes a relatively short physical appearance in the novel, is, of course, the reason and force behind the family’s journey towards some kind of acceptance.
Throughout the novel there is guilt, there is questioning, there is evidence of the potential conflict between faith and day to day existence which elevates this work from a moving personal read to a book with plenty of material for a reading group. Prepare not only to be moved but also, perhaps, to question your own belief system.