from Mandy of Oh Dizzle
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
During college, I studied abroad for a year in the United Kingdom. The UK was the place where I learned how to drink, how to speak "British" semi-fluently, how to write a 12 page research paper, and how to really step out on my own for the first time.
During the spring, I decided take a week long trip to Ireland on my own. Traveling alone for the first time was terrifying but exhilarating. I didn't have any restrictions on where I could go or how long I could stay. I loved the freedom it gave me, but it also meant that there were a few long stretches of time to fill.
As I faced a long bus ride from Dublin to Kilkenny, I decided to pick up a new novel to keep me company. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell had been on the featured table in bookstores for months, and I figured I'd give it a shot, as I'd enjoyed Mitchell's other book Cloud Atlas. Three pages in, and I was hooked. Black Swan Green details the life of Jason, a thirteen year old in 1980's rural England. He gets in and out of scrapes, meets extremely interesting characters, and, as is common in these sorts of books, comes of age. I held on tight to that book through the rest of my trip, reading it on buses, in hostels, in cafes and even in the ruins of old Irish forts. I couldn't escape the hold it had on me, even when the green hills of Ireland beckoned. I finished it waiting in the airport for my flight back to England, and got teary as I turned the last page. It was like leaving one of the best travel companions I ever had.
A few years later, I was lucky enough to meet David Mitchell at a book signing. As he signed my book, I told him about how Black Swan Green entranced me on my trip through Ireland. He apologized for causing me to be too involved with the book to properly see Ireland. I assured him that it was an absolute pleasure.
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