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Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
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Nory Ryan's Song (2000)

by Patricia Reilly Giff

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Overall, I feel this book was quite the amazing read. It had its moments like most books where the story became slow and uninteresting. However, I still enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it for anyone who has not yet read it.
I feel the author choose an amazing topic to write about. People hear about wars and conflicts all of the time, but it is rare to hear of such tragic events. Events like plagues or famines are rarely discussed in history classes. I know many people had read this book as a student, but I never had. Honestly, we hardly discussed the potato famine at all in any of my classes. Reading this book brought good insight and emotion about a topic that I had very little knowledge about. In the author’s note, Patricia Giff discusses more about the potato famine. “The Great Hunger of 1845 to 1852 was a tragic time for the Irish. Enough food to feed double the population was sent out across the sea, while an indifferent government ignored the starving masses.”
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the development of the characters, especially Nory Ryan. Although Nory was only 12 years old, it was very easy to relate to her. Many people have gone through situations (including me) where things are going good and you make ends meet, when suddenly a difficult situation arises. Although she is only 12 years old, she takes on the role of supporting her family and providing food to save them from starvation. Her father is taking longer than normal to return from fishing with money, so her family is also under the threat of being evicted from their home. With little money and food, Nory has to summon the courage, resilience, and resourcefulness to help her family survive. Through all of her hardships, the author has a great skill in developing deep emotion through her words. To develop a scene in my head to see Nory climbing trees to find bird eggs, it gives the reader a great sense of the desperation that everyone was feeling during that time.
In my eyes, the overall message was about family and resilience. How important it is to stay true to yourself and help your loved ones, especially during times of hardship. Hard times always bring people closer together, and I think this book is proof of it. Also, I feel this book gives a great sense to a unfamiliar reader of what life was like in Ireland during these hard times. ( )
  Andrewturner | Nov 7, 2014 |
I enjoyed this story since it was relatable and the language was descriptive. The story also made the reader feel transported to Nory’s Ireland. The story was relatable since I am Irish. I’ve always wanted to learn more about what the potato famine was like since that was the time my ancestors came to America. I was able to indirectly relate to Nory’s struggles and experience from prior knowledge about the time period from family stories and research. I connected most to Nory’s kind heart and strong-willed mind. When she cared enough to face her fear of Anna to get money to save a family she shows her compassion; I myself try to help others when I can think of a way or when a way presents itself as well. When Nory said she wouldn’t go to America she was strong-willed; I also can be strong-willed when it comes to my personal choices, beliefs, or studies. The language being very descriptive helped “transport” the reader to Ireland during the potato famine. In one instant the author states “ you could clearly count the dogs ribs..” which gives detail to the hardship and lack of food that not only the tenant farmers were experiencing but their pets as well. The stories big idea is to inform readers about the hardships faced during the Great Famine without boring dates and something exciting and relatable to them. The story was about Nory’s family during the potato famine in Ireland. Nory, having a kind heart, goes to borrow a coin from Anna to save another family from being kicked out of the farm. Nory is too late but ends up having to work for Anna because she drops the coin in the well. Nory learns about how to use plants and herbs for medical purposes. Eventually Nory’s family decides to go to America, where milk comes in cans and food is of no worry, but Nory is hesitant at first but eventually goes along with the trip. ( )
  MelynnReadmond | Nov 5, 2014 |
I liked this book. I enjoyed the plot of the story and the variety of characters. The plot of the story was very engaging. The author had you rooting for Nory’s family hoping they would find a way to survive. The story starts with the beginning of the potato famine. The Ryan family is already living in poverty but now that they won’t be getting their potato crop for the year they won’t be have any money and they won’t have any food to eat. Nory trys to find different ways for her family to keep going but their efforts seem futile. Her family keeps separating and she only has one wish, to go to America and be happy and never hungry. In the end Nory is on her way to a ship to go to America. It leaves you wondering what happens next. I enjoyed the different characters. You have Nory the passionate caregiver, Celia the loyal and true sister, Sean Red is Nory’s best friend who supports all her ideas, Anna is the caregiver of Nory who teaches her all about herbs and medicine. All the characters are different which helps to make the story much more interesting and engaging. The big idea of the story is the struggle for survival. ( )
  torilynae | Oct 29, 2014 |
Summary:

This is a story of the great potato famine of Ireland in ?? This is the story of Nory Ryan and her family. In the beginning, Nory lived with her two sisters, one brother, and Grandpa. Her dad was off in another town making money for the family. Throughout the story, her family and friends move away because of the family. In the end, Nory also moves to America.

Personal Reaction:

I enjoyed this book. It was very heart wrenching, however. I cannot imagine what all those people went through. Even though we face hard times, we can still get food from other people. In Ireland, though, no one had food.

Classroom Extension Ideas:

1. Use the book as an intro to teach the children about The Great Potato Famine.

2. Use the book to teach the children about helping the needy. Help and encourage the children to have a food drive the whole week. ( )
  JessMaeC | Apr 1, 2013 |
Interest/Reading Level: Grades 5-10

Synopsis:
Nory Ryan is teenager living in Ireland during the great potato famine mid-19th century. Her mother (Mam) is deceased; her father (Da) is a sailor working away from home, and her grandfather (Granda) takes care of the family. The Ryan’s rent their house and land from an English nobleman. He is in the process of taking back his properties as people cannot pay their rent. Times are very tough as the famine has taken food off of everyone’s table resulting in people fleeing the country. Nory’s oldest sister, Maggie, is one who leaves for Brooklyn, NY, USA in search of a better life. Maggie promises to get settled and send for the rest of the family. Celia, Nory’s next oldest sister, leaves the homestead to find Da. Nory takes care of her younger brother, Patch, and is a good neighbor to those in need. Granda takes a job away from home in hopes of earning some money to keep things together until Da returns. Nory is resourceful and trades what she can for food to keep Patch and herself alive. An old woman healer, Anna, teaches Nory her ways of using herbs and plants to heal the ills of neighbors. It is up to Nory to be resourceful to survive. Will Nory and Patch find Da and Celia? Will Granda return with money? Will the family ever be together again under one roof. The ending is a surprise.

Reflection:
Have an interest in Irish history this was interesting to see from the viewpoint and perspective a 12-year old girl. The west coast of Ireland can be brutal with the inclement weather and the potato famine only made a tough life harder. The beginning of the book provides a glossary with Gaelic/Irish words which helps the reader to feel the characters language. For years, I’ve used the word fuafar (means disgusting) and found it amusing as it is used as a descriptor for many situations. Anna, the old healer, finishes Nory’s fuafar shawl so she can take it with her to American. This is a very sweet scene giving Nory something very Irish and reflective of Anna so Nory does not forget her roots. Nory is a strong, female character that is inspirational and a testament to the will to live at all costs. She is fiercely protective of her family and those she loves. Not a bad theme for today’s middle school student. I did like the book although a tad sad. ( )
  malydon | Apr 27, 2012 |
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Epigraph
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First words
Someone was calling.
"Nor-ry. Nor-ry Ryan."
Quotations
I cupped his cheeks in my hands, kissed his tiny nose. "You will remember something, when you are an old man like Granda." I said it slowly, each word above the noise of his crying. "You will say that your own Nory sent you because she loved you. You will say that no one ever loved you more."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440418291, Paperback)

Life is hard for poor Irish potato farmers, but 12-year-old Nory Ryan and her family have always scraped by... until one morning, Nory wakes to the foul, rotting smell of diseased potatoes dying in the fields. And just like that, all their hopes for the harvest--for this year and next--are dashed. Hunger sets in quickly. The beaches are stripped of edible seaweed, the shore is emptied of fish, desperate souls even chew on grass for the nourishment. As her community falls apart, Nory scrambles to find food for her family. Meanwhile, the specter of America lurks, where, the word is, no one is ever hungry, and horses carry milk in huge cans down cobblestone streets.

As Patricia Reilly Giff writes in her note to the reader, the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1852 was a tragic time for the Irish. Enough food to feed double the population was sent out across the sea, while an indifferent government ignored the starving masses. More than one million of the eight million people in Ireland died. Nory Ryan's Song, a fictionalized account based on this terrible era in history, describes the heroic struggles of one girl who refuses to give in to hunger, exhaustion, and hopeless circumstances. Young readers may have heard of the Irish Potato Famine, but they won't truly understand it until they meet Nory. Giff is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Newbery Honor Book Lily's Crossing and the Polk Street School series. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:39 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a terrible blight attacks Ireland's potato crop in 1845, twelve-year-old Nory Ryan's courage and ingenuity help her family and neighbors survive.

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