The Children Act (Ian McEwan)

This ain’t really a rant. It’s more like what I love about this book.

The Children Act, is a story that left me uncomfortable.


PLOT: A leading high court judge, Fiona Maye, is asked to make a decision regarding whether or not a 17-year-old boy undergoes a blood transfusion that he so requires. The boy himself, and his parents, being Jehovahs witnesses, are against the medical process as it is against their religious beliefs. Since the boy is under 18, the court has the final say. In Fiona’s interactions with the boy, she finds him peculiar. He seems to have an understanding of the consequences of failing to undergo the transfusion and he is genuinely okay with dying. However, Fiona goes against his wishes and makes the legal decision for him to undergo the process. Interestingly enough, the parents are very happy that their son was allowed to live. They simply blame Fiona and believe they are innocent in the eyes of God. Such a sight confuses their son. It makes him question the validity of his faith. He starts to shun his religion for he cannot understand God and his teachings anymore. And this is when the 17-year-old boy begins to struggle. When his entire truth (his religion) has come crashing down on him, he has lost everything he had to hold on to. He doesn’t know what the truth is anymore. He doesn’t know how he should live, what are the rules etc. He goes to Fiona for help, but Fiona doesn’t realise the turmoil he’s going through. In a sequence of events, she shuns him. The boy upon turning 18 ends up killing himself. Fiona had initially thought she did the right thing by allowing for the transfusion. But by the end she second guesses herself.

This was when I came to a realisation that time changes everything. With time, the information that you have changes, you get to experience more things, different things and they change your perception of what is important to you. And it kind of frightened me initially because it got me thinking why do I bother fighting for something I believe in when my beliefs might change in the future?

Would the fight be in vain?


I’ve since learned the answer is no.

Everyone wants what is best for them, and at the moment in time they only have the little information that they have to work with when making a decision. As we get more information, we may or may not end up regretting our decisions and that’s just part and parcel of life.

A life of no regrets, is impossible. Such a life only goes to show that one has not learned anything.

So when faced with a decision we regret, this book taught me that we have to learn to accept our mistake and forgive ourselves.

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