Rating: 4 stars
The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes is a thought provoking book that embodies the Irish culture and rural dialects throughout its story. Family relations are exposed and examined throughout Caoilinn’s unique and whimsical style of writing. Deeply philosophical topics are touched on, leading a reader to question their own views throughout the book.
We begin with a background on this unique family, its family structure, and the events happening in Ireland during this time. The story is told from Hart’s perspective; son of Manus Black, the Chief, Nora his wife, and Cormac his brother. We explore the dynamic between each family member, and see little room for growth. Right from the start it is clear that the family dynamic is about to go through a complete change, with the chief falling ill. This leaves the direction of future events unclear for the Black family.
As Caoilinn tells this tale from Hart’s point of view, the reader gets but a tiny glimpse into how difficult and particular his life is. Cormac doesn’t live at home, so the responsibility falls on Hart to look after their father, and weather the burden as a result. While brotherly affection is evident between Cormac and Hart, the betrayals come frequently and continue to the end.
As the Chief’s health continues to deteriorate, what becomes an important tool in coping for both Cormac and Hart is the “wild laughter”, and the freedom within it. The reader may examine their own coping mechanisms, whether healthy or otherwise. Moral values are investigated from the perspective of family, community, and religion.
The Wild Laughter is a book truly like no other with a few twists and turns, and the biggest ones revealed in the final chapter. Caoilinn leaves the reader guessing what the next big turn of events will be for Hart, and doesn’t fail to deliver.
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