Summary: Driven by the desire to reunite with her family as well as running from the law in Ireland, Kit disguises herself as Mick’s younger brother and books passage with him to Canada. A break out of Typhus on a lengthy ship voyage causes them to be quarrantined at Grosse Ilse in Quebec, but Kit doesn’t let that stop her in her pursuit of her siblings. When she finds them, however, her goal of being a family again runs into some significant barriers and Kit finds she must re-evaluate what is best for everyone. A period of self discovery with the nuns in Bytown, Quebec helps her clarify what she wants from life, and when the opportunity comes to follow a new dream, she grasps it with both hands.
Number of Pages: 313
Age Range: 14-16
Review: In case you can’t tell by the amount of quotes I have included, I loved this book. And the best part is that it’s a sequel. I haven’t read Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat, the book that comes before Wild Geese, but there weren’t any significant plot holes due to it being the second book in a series. Although based on what was said about it in Wild Geese, my interest is definitely piqued. I chose Wild Geese because it is set in Quebec and therefore fits in nicely with my Marathon of Books.
Kit is an irrepressible character with a big heart and a single-minded determination to reunite her family and make everything okay again after all of the hardship they endured in Ireland. But when things don’t go as planned, Kit has to face herself and her past and determine the best way forward. There is no doubt that even though she has encountered adversity after adversity that she will continue on. I loved how every time it looked like Kit was going to give up (which wasn’t often), Pignat provided her with encouragement through other characters and their stories and sometimes through Kit’s own thought processes.
Wild Geese is a book chalk full of beloved characters, from Murph and his grandchildren, to Billy, to Jack, to Mick, to Mother Bruyere. They all had something to contribute to the tale, and I learned powerful life lessons from all of them.
I loved the metaphor of Kit being one of the wild geese, based on the story of Irish men fighting for England in foreign wars. Pignat skillfully ties in the act of Kit’s ongoing survival to the story, proving she has just as much mettle as they did in their situation.
I also loved the nuns. They were a truly positive force in the book without being pushy or overly religious, acting always out of love for anyone they came across. Also, I loved the scene between Mother Bruyere and Kit where Kit is asked if she still believes in God after everything that has happened and she says a hesitant yes. Mother Bruyere responds in a sensitive manner by saying that great faith lives with great doubt.
I’m using the word love a lot, but it was just a great book. With engaging characters, a well-paced plot and a satisfying ending, this is one of those books that makes me want to go and read every other book the author has ever written, because I just can’t believe I’ve lived without reading her work before. Read the quotes and you will understand what I am talking about. Thankfully there are more Caroline Pignat books on my Marathon of Books list.
“I know all too well. Famine, disease, loss. Sadly, my story is no different than the hundred others stacked on these berth shelves. I’ve heard so many these past two weeks. Homes destroyed. Families torn apart. Around the cook fires and in shadowy berths, we talk about our villages, our loved ones, the way it was. We sympathize. But it doesn’t change anything. Our stories are what they are. And after a while, we stop telling them.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 12
“At least he has food. Our food. I pray he isn’t taking much. Fergal may be able to work miracles, but even the Lord Jesus Christ himself needed two fish and five loaves to get started.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 62
“I don’t aruge with him. Sure, isn’t he himself doing the very same thing? Bishop’s orders or not, I’d be on the first steamer out of here if it was me. Miles away, just like many of the workers eager to be off this death island. ‘Tis supposed to be an entry into Canada, not an exit to the afterlife.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 135
“I nod, not bothering to tell her I’m a girl. The other robed women are doing the same for other immigrants, combing and cutting hair, washing bodies, shaving the men. Such simple things, really, but it amazes me how wonderful it feels. To be clean. To be cared for.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 172
“‘Limits are manmade things, Kit. Things other people invent to hold us back. ‘Tis up to us to bide them or not.'” – Billy from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 181
“She peers at me from about the dark smudges in her pale face. Annie, but not all of her. She’s lost a bit of herself on the journey. I suppose we all have.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 199
“I survived that hell, I tell myself. The famine, the jail, the crossing. I found Jack. I found Annie. I will survive this.
Someday, I’ll be looking at that moon through the window of my own home with my family gathered ’round. There is a way: there has to be, even if I can’t see it yet.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 205
“‘Bye, Kit,’ she says, hugging me tight.
I can’t speak. Can’t breathe. My words are smothered in pain. I lived to find her, to keep her. What will I live for now?” – Annie and Kit saying good-bye from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 252
“She reaches for my hand. ‘Kit, great faith lives beside great doubt. If we had all the answers, we would not need faith.'” – Mother Bruyere from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 257
“All this time, I thought they didn’t care, but maybe, just maybe, they didn’t understand.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 263
“It all rushed out of me, my sins of murder, envy, hatred, theft, deceit, doubt, anger, and greed. It sickened me to bring them up and spew them out – but I had to. I just had to. For I could carry them no longer.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 273
“‘No matter what they take from you,’ I sit on the bed and rest my hand on Billy’s heart as Murph’s words echo through me, ‘they can’t take what’s in here. And with that, why, you’ve got all you need.'” – Kit talking to Billy from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 281
“The cold truth of it hits me, numbing the heat of my will. As much as I want him here with me, as badly as I need him to live, I love him too much to make him stay. Moving to his head, I rest my mouth on his one more time, only this time I don’t blow. I kiss.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 288
“He won’t say the words again. Won’t nudge them out like a young robin fresh from the nest, only to see them dashed to the ground like they were in the storeroom of the ship those long months back. They perch in him, in both of us, teetering on the edge of flight. Or failure. I feel them battering their wings inside of my heart.
Say it. Say it. Say it.” – Kit from Wild Geese by Caroline Pignat, page 311