Review: The Innocents by Francesca Segal
As a mother, I slightly dread the teenage years. All that recklessness and rebellion to contend with, not to mention underwear over saggy jeans and raging hormones. A friend who teaches in a secondary school assures me that teenagers are endlessly fascinating. They see the world in a unique way and are constantly challenging their environment. Yes, fun for the dispassionate observer, but a bit of a trial for any parent obliged to witness her offspring's lovely experiment with liberty.
Earlier this week I joined a Mumsnet webchat with Francesca Segal, author of the prize-winning novel, The Innocents. She described this tension between conformity and freedom as a universal conflict. "Navigating between social pressures and individual needs is one of the fundamental challenges of growing up." In her book, Francesca uses a close-knit Jewish neighbourhood in North London "to explore questions and dilemmas that face almost everyone, coming of age - independence versus security; one's own needs versus the needs of a community."