New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction
When a new teacher arrives in a tiny fishing village, she realizes the most important lessons are the ones she learns outside the classroom.
It’s 1985. Rachel O’Brien arrives in Little Cove seeking a fresh start after her father dies and her relationship ends. As a new teacher at the local Catholic high school, Rachel chafes against the small community, where everyone seems to know her business. The anonymous notes that keep appearing on her car, telling her to go home, don’t make her feel welcome either.
Still, Rachel is quickly drawn into the island’s distinctive music and culture, as well as the lives of her students and fellow teacher, Doug Bishop. As Rachel begins to bond with her students, her feelings for Doug also begin to grow. Rachel tries to ignore her emotions because Doug is in a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart. Or is he?
Eventually, Rachel’s beliefs clash with church and community, and she makes a decision that throws her career into jeopardy. In trying to help a student, has she gone too far? Only the intervention of the ‘Holy Dusters,’ local women who hook rugs and clean the church, can salvage Rachel’s job as well as her chance at a future with Doug.
I don’t think something has made me feel my age more than coming to the realization that a book set in the 80’s is considered Historical Fiction haha. Considering I was born in 1988, that hurt.
I have also come to the realization though that I want to read more books set in the 80s. It’s so close to contemporary (which I have finally started to read more in the last couple years) but also different enough that offers the comfort and discomfort of much of modern day technology.
This book felt like stepping into a different world for many different reasons, the year, the location, the people, the language. It was all so unique and interesting to me and surprisingly educational. It’s shocking how little I know about some parts on history and people in my own Country.
Rachel was a great character who has a lot on her plate throughout the book and learns to open up and move forward at a perfect pace. The residents of Little Cove are also quite the cast and I loved her interactions with them. I liked that they were warm and welcoming but there were also some that did not want her there for specific reasons that felt honest even if some were a bit inappropriate about it. I also enjoyed Doug as a character even if he was a bit too moody for me at times. I could appreciate where it was coming from but there are some things he doesn’t handle the best.
The clash of beliefs was a plot point that I found wove throughout the book but also wasn’t as prominent as I expected. Yes, it was always there and it gets brought up pretty regularly but it never really felt like a ‘clash’ to me. The stakes were set but they weren’t very high or risky to me.
There is a lot about this book to enjoy though and I really recommend it if you love great characters and a unique setting.