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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

The Stars of the County Down

The Connelly’s of County Down by Tracey Lange


Will you like this book? You might if you like:

Stories about siblings

Complicated family relationships

Family Secrets

Multiple POVs

Super powers

Love Connellys

I know that other groups have complicated family issues, but I am not sure anyone does it quite like the Irish (maybe the Italians, is it because they are Catholic too?). Having been born and brought up in an Irish Catholic family, I tend to be drawn to these types of stories: ones with family drama, complicated sibling relationships, tight-lipped matriarchs (and pseudo-matriarchs, looking at you Geraldine), and characters just struggling to find happiness in the chaos of their lives. So all these things that can really weigh a person down, but the Irish, they try to find some humor in it all. Which is the perfect summation of Tracey Lange’s second book, the Connelly’s of County Down.

I really enjoyed Lange’s debut novel, We Are the Brennens, so when this book was a BOTM choice in July, it was an automatic pick for me. And I was not disappointed. I started it on a plane ride Friday night and I finished it on a plane right on Sunday afternoon. It was an easy read in that you just are instantly swept up in the story of the Connelly siblings: Tara, Geraldine, and Eddie.

Lange weaves an element of mystery through the book; when it opens we meet Tara as she is leaving a medium security prison in New York after serving 18 months for drug trafficking. But as we get to know Tara, it seems more and more ridiculous that she would ever be doing so in the first place. Which is why the detective that helped put her away, can’t seem to stop himself from contacting her. Meanwhile, Tara returns to live with her sister, Geraldine, a bookkeeper, and brother, Eddie, and his son, Connor, while she tries to put her life back together after jail time.

Lange packs A LOT into 272 pages and as a reader, I kept wanting to read just a little more, to know just a few more things. The relationship between the siblings is what drives the story and you feel for all three of them and Lange draws them each so sympathetically. But maybe the part that moved me the most was Tara’s struggle after she gets out of prison. I am not sure if Lange was trying for social commentary, but the fine line that ex–convicts have to walk is so hard, without the support of her family, I am not sure that Tara would have been able keep going, the help they provide in large and small ways is not only a testament to how vital a supportive family is for people, but also for how not having that safety net can mean a vastly different life for someone. For me, Lange’s books and their focus on family show that having the love of some type of family, whether it is biological or found, is crucial for a life well lived.

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