Ian MacEwan’s The Children Act presents many interesting aspects of the often troubled relationship between childhood and the law. Fiona Maye, nearly 60, wise and respected judge of the High Court, faces the most dreadful family disputes and tries to solve them through fair decisions, showing expert and competent legal reasoning. The urgent case of a young boy, Jehovah’s Witness, suffering from leukaemia and refusing transfusion, leads Fiona to the most difficult decision, one that involves life and death, religious freedom and the child’s welfare. The novel constitutes the occasion for some reflections on the English Family Law system and minors’ protection – as settled by Parliament in The Children Act 1989 – and on the recent reforms of the Family Justice, aimed at improving the “private” resolution of family conflicts through mediation as a means of reducing the “expensive” Courts intervention
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