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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014

THE CHILDREN ACT Ian McEwan is a British author who has written several novels which are very memorable, including one entitled Saturday and another entitled Atonement which was made into a movie. In this novel, Th e Children Act, he creates a suspense in the latter part of the novel which seems to be not only genuine but also not artifi cially concocted. Th e outcome and resolution of all the characters will surprise the reader and allow one to appreciate not only medical dilemmas but religious dilemmas as well. Th is is, also, a study of the English system of justice which most lawyers fi nd interesting in that it diff ers so markedly from the practice of law in the United States. For your information, Ian McEwan is a self-professed agnostic, or even atheistic. However, he has obviously studied the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and accurately expresses them in this fascinating novel. Further, he has thoroughly researched the medical dilemma which is presented in this case involving multiple legal issues, moral issues, and religious issues. Th e price of the book is $25.00. It may also be obtained ...a study of the English system of justice which most lawyers fi nd interesting in that it diff ers so markedly from the practice of law in the United States. online at less cost. Th is interesting novel will challenge your sense of right and wrong, both legally and medically. G Book Reviews Robert R. Kracke Book Review By Ian McEwan Doubleday, NY 2014 (221 pgs.) Editor Robert R. Kracke Th e title of this book references the Children Act of 1989 which was adopted by the Parliament of England. Th is is a novel that rings as if it is non-fi ction, inasmuch as it is set in London in what is called the family division of the British High Court. Th e protagonist is a female judge, Fiona Maye, who has been on the bench for several years. Th e plot revolves around Adam Henry, a 17-year old boy, who has, on religious grounds, refused a blood transfusion which could possibly save his life. He and his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who don’t believe in blood transfusions. Th e judge then faces the dilemma of allowing the hospital permission to overrule Adam’s wishes and go forward with a transfusion. If Judge Maye refuses to grant the hospital the right to give the transfusion, the boy’s prognosis is very poor. Th e story concerns Judge Maye’s struggle with not only medical protocol but religious belief. Because Adam has not yet reached the age of majority, his mental reason is called into question as to whether he has the necessary maturity to make such a decision. Th e plot is complicated by the fact that Fiona, the judge, is an elderly woman who has not had sex with her husband for months. Her husband comes to her and asks for permission to have an aff air and the judge indignantly refuses to allow her husband to commit adultery. Ian McEwan, in most of his books, usually presents a picture of a moral issue and in this one, he presents several moral questions. Judge Maye decides to visit the hospital and interview Adam personally. In the midst of her marital woes and her emotional feelings for Adam, she fi nally makes a decision which allows the transfusion. Of course, this violates Adam’s and his parents’ religious belief but ultimately saves Adam’s life. Th en the judge is presented with the decision of whether she will allow her marriage to dissolve over her sexual indiff erence. 26 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014
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