Fractured by Clár Ni Chonghaile
‘The stars do not banish the dark. They just let us see exactly how black the sky is.’
Fractured tells the story of Peter Maguire, an ordinary journalist who finds himself attacked, kidnapped and held to ransom by Somalian rebels. With nothing to do in the heat of the dark and dingy outhouse but brood on his life and his regrets, Peter passes the time recalling his choices and his mistakes.
Nina, Peter’s mother, is living in Paris when the call comes. ‘Mum, it’s me. […] I’ve been… taken, kidnapped. They want money.’ Unable to sit idly by while her son suffers in terrible danger, Nina boards a plane to Somalia, where she joins the AMISOM rescue attempt, uncovering a lot about herself in the process.
While Nina worries about her son’s fate, Peter dwells on his own troubles, inviting us in to the fickle mind of the man behind the reporter. Pushed to the limit, and aware that he will soon be sold to the terrorist organisation Al Shabaab, Peter is close to giving up entirely, until an unlikely source offers an extension of kindness in the form of a cigarette.
Mother and son are both entrapped in difficult relationship dilemmas, carrying the burden of the pasts, their choices and their regrets through their everyday lives. With only days left to live, Peter comes to some astonishing realisations about his own struggles, and the random events that have led him to his current situation, alone and afraid in Somalia’s dusty outskirts.
The novel’s third and final storyline comes from Abdi, a Somalian teenager struggling to do right despite the many forces compiled against him.
‘If my death felt like my shadow before today, a black shape fluttering at the edge of my field of vision, now I am certain that I am unlikely to see out this year, maybe even this month.’
Living in amongst the political unrest, Abdi is forced to grow up very quickly during the course of the novel. When he is sent to help his cousin with a questionable business transaction, Abdi’s decision could mean the difference between the end of his life, and a life he would be unable to live.
Fractured is a novel about people, choices, mistakes and second chances. Chonghaile masterfully pieces together the many random events that make up a life, influencing her characters and their decisions, until eventually, they are forced to confront their actions head on and, in doing so, accept responsibility for those they have hurt along the way.