The Troubles with Us

Alix O’Neill

A hilarious memoir about growing up in Northern Ireland in the 90s towards the end of the Troubles and a brilliantly propelling narrative of the extraordinary background story of her mother. Her mother’s vivid personality and witty colloquialisms dominate the book and help to give a social history of life in Belfast from the 1950s onwards.

Growing up on the Falls Road in 1990s Belfast, Alix O’Neill has seen it all – burnt-out buses blocking the route to school, the police mistaking her father for a leading terrorist and a classmate playing hide and seek with her dad’s prosthetic hand (blown off making a device for the IRA). Not that she or her friends are up to speed with the goings-on of the resistance. They’re too preoccupied with the obsessions of every teenage girl  – booze, boys and Boyzone – to worry about the violence on their doorstep. Besides, the odd coffee jar bomb is nothing compared to the drama about to explode in Alix’s personal life. 

Desperate to leave Northern Ireland and the trials of her mother’s unorthodox family – a loving yet eccentric band of misfits – behind, she makes grand plans for the next stage. But it’s through these relationships and their gradual unravelling that Alix begins to appreciate not only the troubled history of where she comes from, but the strength of its women.
Warm, embarrassing and full of love and insight, The Troubles with Us is a hilarious and moving account of the madness and mundanities of life in Northern Ireland during the thirty-year conflict. It’s a story of mothers and daughters, the fallout from things left unsaid and the lengths a girl will go to for fake tan.

Reviews of The Troubles with Us

    • ‘Derry Girls meets David Sedaris – a sound dose of social history served with all the lightness and humour of an after-work cocktail’ Elske Rahill, author of An Unravelling
    • ‘This book is one of the most compelling and moving I’ve read in years and I want to grab passers-by to tell them about it. It’s eye-wateringly funny, clever, insightful, emotional – all things you could want from a memoir’ Lucy Vine, author of Are We Nearly There Yet?
    • ‘This is a brassy, ballsy, belter of a book – full of the real grit of what it means to come from Northern Ireland . . . From sexy toy petrol stations to mortifying period chats with yer swearing ma – from Gerry Adams on the telly to naming your goats in an attempt at bridging the political divide – from burning a placenta the weekend of the twelfth to portakabin penance with Tamagotchis: this book will turn your views on the Troubles upside down. O’Neill writes the North like no one else I have encountered; with wit, humour and pure affection’ Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of Thin Places
    • ‘Pacy, terrifyingly visual and mordantly funny, this endearing family portrait set against a backdrop of unflinching horror tells us more about Belfast – and the world – than any newspaper or academic tome. Ordinary lives determined to make it out the other side unscathed, Alix O’Neill’s memoir is an absolute blast of a book that reminds us how to be human’ June Caldwell, author of Little Town Moone
    • ‘Funnier than Derry Girls, this Belfast girl will have you laughing on every page of this evocative and revealing Troubles memoir’ Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son