Review: Narvla’s Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi

Narvla's Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi

Narvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame. Until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. First Narvla receives a disturbing picture of her boyfriend and her best friend. Then she struggles to qualify for the Irish elite step-dancing squad, and her grades plummet.

But the biggest obstacle in Narvla’s new life is Dublin Boy, a cheeky musician with a disdain for academics and a distrust of Americans. Although Narvla is upset when she’s paired with Dublin Boy for the most important semester of her life, her real concern is the growing attraction she feels toward him. As the Celtic New Year unfolds, Narvla is pushed to abandon her lifelong need for control and embrace the charm of the unexpected.

Title: Narvla’s Celtic New Year
Author: Therese Gilardi
Publication date: April 6, 2015

I received Narvla’s Celtic New Year in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t plan it this way, but I read Narvla’s Celtic New Year just as St. Patrick’s Day was approaching. Shamrock Shakes, Irish soda bread, and corned beef were all on the menu as I was reading the book. I even made an Irish beef stew, although the weather did not cooperate and it was really too warm for stew that day. Some of those things may be more American than true Irish — I’m pretty sure real Irish soda bread doesn’t have green decorating sugar on it like the loaf I bought did — but they helped set the mood. I did not, after all, have my very own Dublin Boy to sing Danny Boy on a streetcorner.

Almost everything seems perfect when Narvla and her mother move to Ireland. Narvla’s a very talented Irish step dancer in the US and making an elite Irish team will help her stand out in her Notre Dame application for the following year. Her mother’s friend keeps sending word about how competitive it is, this year especially. It’s mentioned so often that it gets a little heavy-handed. She doesn’t seem to be very kind about it, either. Narvla’s already struggling and she doesn’t need that additional pressure. Her new school in Ireland is more difficult than her old one and unless something changes, Narvla’s final year grades may not be good enough.

Almost immediately upon arriving in Ireland, Narvla runs into a local boy who sings in the park. Known locally as Dublin Boy, he’s about her age and when she tries to compliment him, he makes a rude comment about her being American. Narvla’s sorry to see him again when she enrolls in a local school and even more unhappy when they’re partnered to work on a project together. Everything eventually works itself out and Narvla discovers that he’s not that bad after all. I wasn’t sure about him either, but Dublin Boy grew on me as well. I laughed a little when I realized that Narvla continued to think of him as Dublin Boy even after meeting him, even after partnering with him on school projects, and even after becoming involved with him. But I thought of him as Dublin Boy all along too, and Colin didn’t seem to fit him, so Dublin Boy he is.

I love the cast of characters in Ireland! From Malcolm, who runs the ambassador’s household, to Narvla’s new friends at school and at her step dance school, they’re all fun and different in their own ways. There’s so much emphasis on Irish culture and the differences Narvla experiences that Ireland itself even seems to be a character. The end of the book skips ahead about a year and provides an update on where the many of these characters are at that time. I love that! I like not having to wonder what’s happened to characters after the book ends.

Despite such drastic changes in Narvla’s life, Narvla’s Celtic New Year isn’t a book full of big drama. It’s mostly about Narvla’s day-to-day life in adjusting to a new country and a new school. The things that happen to her and around her are relatable because they’re the types of things that could happen to any high school senior. She struggles to keep up in school, she meets a guy she likes, a party gets out of hand. Narvla’s Celtic New Year is realistic with good characters that are interesting to read about.

4 stars
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Jenna

Comments

  1. I’m glad you liked this one! I really enjoyed it too. I think it was like 3.5 stars for me, but it was still such a fun read, especially getting to experience a new culture in YA.