Australian Sonya Hartnett wrote her first book, Trouble All the
Way, at the tender age of 13 and was in print by the time she was
15. She has since written many acclaimed books for children and
adults including Thursday's Child, winner of the Guardian
Children's Fiction Prize. Long-listed for the Orange Prize for
Fiction, What the Birds See is a haunting, tragic and deeply
affecting book. Adrian is nine. He is a lonely, lost little soul.
His life is full of a child's fears - of not being loved, of being
left, of his best friend going off with someone else - as well as
of the less rational, but no less real to him, dangers of quicksand
and spontaneous combustion. Unfortunately for Adrian, many of his
fears seem justified. He lives in a fractured and unloving family,
constantly worried he will end up in St Joseph's, a home for
deserted and mentally unstable children. Wonderfully insane Sandra
at his school is a frightening and somewhat inspiring example of
just how close to that edge Adrian is. When three local children
disappear while they are out for ice cream, new fears and new
experiences confront Adrian. New friends arrive. Everything
changes. The narrative is so poignant, it is painful. Every word is
carefully chosen, crafted, and placed. Highly visual, this novel is
like its subject: fragile, tender, and very, very sad. It is
reminiscent of some of J D Salinger's work, particularly A Perfect
Day for Bananafish. This is not an uplifting read, but it is one
you won't forget in a hurry. (Kirkus UK)
On a late autumn day in 1977 a fishing boat dredges the carcass of
a huge sea monster from the black waters of the Pacific. In a
peaceful suburban neighbourhood, three children go to the shop to
buy ice cream and never return home. These events trouble Adrian,
but then most things do. He's afraid of quicksand, tidal waves,
self-combustion, shopping centres...A timid boy, who says little
and does what he's told, he finds there is much in his world that
he cannot understand. He lives with his gran and his Uncle Rory;
his only friend is Clinton Tull, his one talent is for drawing. The
routine of his life rarely changes...until the day the new children
arrive in the house across the street. Then everything changes.
Sonya Hartnett's dark, poignant and suspenseful novel perfectly
captures the tenderness, cruelty and skewed perceptions of
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