by Louise, Kennedy is set amid the Troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s 1975 and 24-year-old Cushla is just trying to get by peacefully, working as a teacher and occasionally moonlighting behind the bar of her family’s pub. Here, she meets Michael Agnew, a man she’s attracted to but immediately knows is forbidden, as he’s older, married, and Protestant, a barrister who is known for defending IRA members. Against her better judgment, Cushla gets romantically involved with Michael and caught up in the drama of one of her students, whose mixed Catholic and Protestant parentage has made him a target of violence. Kennedy's novel is a nuanced depiction of vivid characters living in the midst of traumatic circumstances, a beautifully written story that eschews easily drawn lines of morality and offers a fresh, honest perspective.