Review of ‘The Troubles With Us’ by Alix O’Neill

A memoir about growing up in Belfast in the 80s and 90s, this book is billed as ‘Derry Girls meets David Sedaris’, which I can’t comment on as I have watched or read neither.

Alix O’Neill tells us about her eccentric family and what it was like to be a Catholic teenager during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s a very personal book which places her experiences in the wider context of the political situation. A real eye-opening insight, this is a good read, brave, surprising at times, although not as hilarious as the endorsements suggest. I like how the book has an authentic voice, peppered with colloquial phrases. I think the bits about the drinking binges and partying could have been condensed, as these were uninteresting and not a unique selling point of the book. The starring character is really Alix’s mother, a strong, stoical, idiosyncratic woman with a lot of family secrets.

The book is probably at aimed at people in their thirties, due to the teenage cultural references included, which are not always explained. I think it’s particularly suited to outsiders who should have more of an understanding of Northern Ireland, but it might be interesting for the author’s contemporaries, especially others from Belfast. More thorough proofreading would have been beneficial. The ‘pope’ without a capital P? ‘Glamourous’ with that extra u? There were no photos, which was a little disappointing.

Published in 2021 by 4th Estate.

Leave a Reply