Review: How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray

1 Jun

Scholastic Canada, 2010

It’s dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she’s about to leave. Mannie’s ready to start a new life and forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother who’s always overshadowed her, and his friend Harry Jacob, who just might be Mannie’s boyfriend . . .

And her only clue is an unfamiliar address in Melbourne, written on a scrap of paper found in her brother’s room. As she makes her journey to the city, the mystery of this vulnerable, quirky girl is revealed piece by piece in her search for a way to become whole again.

From Scholastic Canada website

Quite often as writers, we are told to “show, not tell”. Neverbefore have I found such an amazing example of this than Martine Murray’s How to Make a Bird. The mysteries that surround Mannie and her past trickle out effortlessly and without a whole lot of bells and whistles, making the reveals even more dramatic. The whole less is more thing.

And OMG the writing! So, so lyrical and pretty. Her use of language and descriptive abilities made me ache.  Even though she was quite often switching from the present to the past and then going even further into the past, there was a flow to the prose and not once was I confused.

I had a strong reaction to aspects of How to Make a Bird partly because of a few scenes in the book that seemed to mimick events in my past. And I’m not talking generic things that any fake psychic could know. I’m talking about specifics. Because of this I felt a very strong connection to Mannie and could empathize to some degree with what she was going through.

There was nothing about this book that I did not like. Sure, some of the Australian termonology threw me for a bit of a loop, but once I read the context of the word, its meaning wasn’t too hard to figure out.

If you are looking for a beautifully written book with a main character that will both break your heart and make you smile, then How to Make a Bird is definitely a novel you should check out.

Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for the review copy.

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