If you read my review of Five Days in Skye, you know I find the Isle of Skye enchanting. Seeing the word ‘Skye’ had a lot to do with my downloading The Skye in June onto my Kindle. It tells the story of a Catholic Scottish family who emigrate to America in the 1950s. But June Ahern writes about a lot more than a typical immigrants’ struggle to fit in.
In a Glasgow hospital, Cathy Macdonald dreads her husband’s reaction to their having yet another daughter. In a rebellious mood, Cathy decides not to name her child after a Catholic saint, and she is called June after the month in which she is born. The MacDonalds have five daughters and have an average life that revolves around family and church. In a stroke of misfortune, Cathy loses her four year old daughter and also the child she is carrying. Grief struck, the family decides to build a new life in America.
Life in San Francisco offers a lot of new attractions. The girls are enrolled in a Catholic school by their religious father. Young June is at home with her mother, and spends a lot of time with her old Polish neighbor, who teaches her the tarot. All the women instinctively know that father Jimmy should not know about the tarot cards. June often surprises people by her insights and her knowledge about their life. Eventually, the tarot cards are discovered and burnt, and June is branded pagan. She struggles to fit in to the strict doctrines of the Catholic faith imposed on her by the nuns.
The MacDonalds move to their own house, the girls grow up and try to live under the strict rule of their father. San Francisco is changing, and the atmosphere is ripe with the gay movement and the hippies. Cathy tries to act as a buffer between her tyrant husband and free willed daughters while fighting her own struggles. As some of their family members pass away in Scotland, the whole family grieves and misses their homeland. Will the girls fall prey to local influences, or live under the strict guidelines imposed by their father? Will June be accepted as normal and be allowed to openly act on her psychic abilities?
The Skye in June is a captivating tale narrated in a flowing style that will keep you turning the pages. The changing American landscape makes an apt backdrop to the story. As you read on you realize that this tale is neither about an immigrant’s struggle, nor about post war social change and growth in America. It is about a young girl’s life long struggle to recognize what she feels deep inside and why.
A riveting read that will leave you thoughtful, is The Skye in June.