Factory Girls

A funny, fierce, and unforgettable read about a young woman working a summer job in a shirt factory in Northern Ireland, while tensions rise both inside and outside the factory walls.
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304 pages

Average rating: 6.5




Community Reviews

Dec 27, 2023
4/10 stars
Since I live in China, I found the topic interesting. Otherwise, I would not recommend this book. The writing style is bland and the stories don't flow well.
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Oct 09, 2023
7/10 stars
Factory Girls surprised me. It is very much a period piece, set in 1994 in Northern Ireland. This would have been during The Troubles when living in this part of the world was dangerous and miserable. Even civilians were targets and no one was safe from the violence. Maeve, our narrator, is waiting on her GCSE results. She needs decent grades to go to the school at which she's been offered a place, in London. To save money for their respective moves Maeve and her bffs Caroline and Aoife work at the local shirt factory for the summer. What follows is a humerus but damning portrait of the summer of '94 in small town Northern Ireland. We see the turmoil between the Catholics and Protestants, the Irish and the British, the IRA and everyone it seems. We hear about Maeve's older sister who committed suicide, and we slowly learn that she wasn't someone who could mentally handle all of the violence and fighting in her community. There's one scene where the girls, as young children, are at a practice for a Christmas pageant that gets bombed. Luckily both girls are okay, Maeve was cut badly but otherwise both were fine physically, but Deirdre seemed very much affected on an emotional level. She says that their mother put them to bed but her sister couldn't sleep: "She'd stayed awake for hours that night, watching Deirdre blink in the bed opposite, her eyes glittering like broken glass." (pg218) We hear other instances where Deirdre seem to internalize a lot of her feelings, which appears from the outside to have greatly contributed to her suicide. It's beyond sad, even more so because Maeve doesn't seem to connect this, or if she does she doesn't verbalize it in this novel. I don't want to give too much of the plot away but we find Maeve maturing during the summer, expanding her horizons when she meets and attempts to befriend Protestants, and finally figuring out what is really important to her. She grows while coming to terms with the violent community she's known her whole life. I would definitely recommend this to my reading friends. Especially those who love introspective novels where the protagonist is easy to love and root for. Look for Factory Girls, it will be on sale starting November 29th 2022 . A huge thanks to the author Michelle Gallen, Algonquin Books, and NetGalley for providing an e-ARC for my review purposes. This did not influence my review in any way.
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