Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Children Act

The Children Act
Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-385-53970-8
221 pages

"When a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child...the child's welfare shall be the court's paramount consideration."
Even though this is a quote from from Section 1(A) of The Children Act of 1989 in Great Britain, very similar laws, rules, procedures values and ethics exist in much of the world.  Even though this novel deals with the British legal system, it is relevant in the United States.   The actual name of the number and the act might differ, but the ideas are the same.
Changes in society cause numerous problems for families.
For High Court judge, Fiona Maye this idea of change also applies to her life.   In her early years of being married to Jack, she expected to have children.   That never happened.
Now Jack wants to have an affair which a much younger woman, one who can be passionate.   She is not passionate?   Years of marriage and devotion is not passionate?   Loyalty and devotion mean nothing?  Does this mean divorce is next?   Fiona has no idea how to fix her broken marriage.
A traditional Jewish family has two daughters.   When their mother becomes educated, she causes changes in her family.   The mother wanted the daughters to be sent to a coeducational Jewish secondary school exposing them to boys, the internet, pop music, fashion and today's culture.   In this family, when the mother and father married, the mother was to stay at home to raise the children.   The father wanted many children but due to the difficulty with the birth of the second daughter, the mother was not capable of bringing more children into the world.   To compensate, this mother took classes at the local university and earned a degree to become a teacher.   So who should raise the children?
A seventeen-year-old boy is dying.   Due to his religion, his parents will not allow him to have a blood transfusion which can save his life.   He believes his parents are correct. What is the right thing for a judge to do?
Ian McEwan is an award winning best-selling author.   He has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award.
The Children Act takes place in England but the laws in this summer are similar.  This story could take place anywhere and opens everyone to consider how our lives change and to question if the rules and laws of years ago will be relevant today.

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