The Children Act

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Ian McEwan
The Children Act

The Children Act, as the title suggests, is about a law written in England to help protect the rights of children when the high court must decide on an issue concerning the child.

This rather short novel is about Fiona, a family high court judge, who must make decisions about a child’s welfare. The young Jehovah’s Witness, Adam, is 17 and legally unable to make medical decisions apart from his parents’ wishes. Since Adam has Leukemia and his parents refuse blood transfusion for their son due to religious reasons, Fiona must step in and make the decision for Adam as the case has been brought before the Court for a ruling by the doctors providing care. 

The Children Act is more of a character study than courtroom drama, involving the judge and a difficult and sensitive medical case she is faced with regarding treatment that could save Adam’s life. The consequences of her ruling in the case are at the heart of the story, but, despite the sobering topic, it was not a difficult read.

Fiona herself has an issue; the fidelity of her marriage is at stake, and the conditions her husband wants to put on the marriage (to make it open) makes for an engaging side story. Their problems are realistic issues acknowledged by married couples, but the decisions made by the high court and Fiona are much more pivotal than domestic issues. In the court cases, the effects of the law and religion can change how a life is lived; in the domestic arena, the problems are painful but not necessarily life-threatening. Gradually, through time, Fiona and her husband come to the realization that their marriage might be saved; the outlook for Adam is not as encouraging.

This author takes an already engaging story and adds an interesting element that makes it extraordinary. I'm glad I read this book as the writer has the ability to use words in a descriptive manner to make it beautiful prose.

Check our catalog for this book.


Sue H., Reference

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