Summary: When the potato blight hits Ireland in the 1800s, Kit Byrne’s family loses their livelihood. As a result Kit’s Da is forced to go to England in search of work, and Kit’s family nearly starves as they try to survive. Living under an ambivalent land owner and a militant middle manager named Mr. Lynch, Kit’s anger toward them grows as the blight is used to evict several people and take advantage of them. After tragedy personally strikes her family, Kit takes matters into her own hands, seeking revenge for the wrongs committed against her family and community.
Number of Pages: 279
Age Range: 13-15
Review: An engaging, fast-paced read, Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat provides readers with a memorable heroine in Kit Byrne. She’s tough and head-strong, and willing to take decisive action to ensure her family’s survival when needed.
But she also has a vulnerable side. Kit is in love with Tom Lynch, the middle manager’s son, and continues to hope that he will grow up and become his own man although he lets her down again and again. I was so disappointed in Tom even though I read the sequel, Wild Geese, first and I know things turn out well for Kit romantically speaking. In retrospect, I suppose though that Tom’s act of warning Kit about her family being evicted took as just as much courage for him to do as Kit’s planning to kill Mr. Lynch did. Different characters, different perspectives and challenges.
I learned a lot about Ireland’s potato famine and landlord system and I enjoyed Kit’s journey. It’s easy to see why Greener Grass was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.
“We danced for ages, oblivious to the pain in our sides and our feet. The band carried us from one dance to another like a ship on the sea, slow and gentle one minute and rocking and heaving the next. We danced them all.” – Kit from Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat, page 54
“‘Some things we will never know for sure, Kathleen. We just have to keep believing in our hopes. For without hope, we’ve nothing.'” – Moira, Kit’s mother from Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat, pages 96-97
“‘It’s not her fault,’ I said, surprising the both of us. ‘I mean, she’s lost her husband and two sons, and now her home. How many parts of yourself can you lose before you’ve nothing left but emptiness?’
The question hung in the cold night air. For neither of us had an answer.” – Kit from Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat, page 137
“‘Your mother was the only woman I knew who could sow hope in a barren field and share the fruit of it with everyone.’ Lizzie said, as she held me at arm’s length and smiled with pride. ‘She had the gift of hope and you have it, too. Guard those seeds well and your life will yield wondrous things. I promise you.'” – Lizzie from Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat, page 235