Author: Ian McEwan
Published by: Jonathan Cape, 2001
Year Level: 12-13
The novel begins in the Tallis family home, during a hot summer day, although the family are close, there is a tension that lies beneath the surface. Multiple storylines intertwine when the youngest, Briony, wrongly accuses a man for rape. The family is ripped apart and Briony spends the rest of her days seeking a way to find atonement.
Atonement by Ian McEwan may be a novel that deals with adult themes such as love and war, but it also deals with the theme of family conflict. Written in a nonlinear fashion, Atonement is engaging and eye opening to the consequences that can happen from one decision.
The theme of family conflict is relevant to students as so many families are affected by divorce or separation, because of this, I would recommend this novel to students.
How I would teach this book: It is a complex book and would be suitable for year thirteen. I could teach it alongside (or link it with) Journey’s end, War Poetry, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (layered story within a story), The Tempest (forgiveness), amongst many other possibilities.