‘Remember daughter, the world is a lot bigger than anyone knows. There are things that science may never explain. Maybe some things that shouldn’t be explained.’
I totally binged this thrilling and at times, utterly terrifying book in a matter of hours – it is compulsive, compelling and totally un-putdownable! I was completely gripped and could not think about or focus on anything else whilst reading Ghost Bird, so much so I carried it everywhere with me, snatching moments to devour another page whenever I could.
Set in rural Australia in the late 90s, 16 year old twins, Stacey and Laney are entering their last year of high school. The girls are mirror images of each other but as different as the sun and the moon. Stacey wants to go places, do things and be someone different while Laney just wants to skip school and sneak out of the house to meet her boyfriend Troy.
But when Laney disappears one night, Stacey can’t believe she’s just run off without telling her. The community rallies round and relentless search parties cover huge areas of land but to no avail. As the days pass and Laney doesn’t return, Stacey starts dreaming of her twin. The dreams are dark and terrifying. Stacey is the only one who can find her sister. Will she find her in time…
Ghost Bird is one of those books that will keep you up late into the night reading, although it leaves you wanting to sleep with the lights on – (that’s if you’re not too scared to go to sleep!) I’ve kept my description of the plot deliberately brief to avoid spoilers but the fact that the ‘events’ in the story are based on spiritual beliefs, real things that exist in our world and not fantasy or the supernatural, make the plot all the more scary! Expect to start listening out for sounds around the house at night, scratching at the door or creaking of the floorboards and always, ALWAYS check underneath your car…
As well as being the most thrilling of page-turners, Ghost Bird presented me with an opportunity to learn about and understand a little about a culture I previosly had very limited knowledge of. The story highlights the horrific racism suffered by First Nations Australian peoples and the ‘whitewashing of Australia’s education system. I implore you to read Lisa’s blog on Why Culturally Aware Reviews Matter It’s an absolute must read, whether you’ve read the book or not.
I feel privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to gain a glimpse into Lisa’s community and her ‘mob.’ The fierce protection of family radiates from every page and I thoroughly enjoyed the use of dialect – the characters’ Aboriginal English makes them so real and relatable. I absolutely adore Stacey’s cousin ‘Rhi’ whose character kept me entratained throughout. There’s also a little hint of romance along the way – in my view essential for teen readers.
Ghost Bird is without a doubt, my favourite Young Adult read this year and I can’t wait to see what Lisa Fuller writes next.
About the Author
Lisa Fuller is a member of the Wulli Wulli Nation, recognised in 2015 as the traditional custodians of 108,000 hectares of Queensland, Australia. Ghost Bird was an Honour Book in the Australian Book of the Year Awards and Winner, Readings Young Adult Book Prize and Queensland Literary Awards. Lisa has previously published poetry, blogs and short fiction and is passionate about culturally appropriate writing and publishing.
Lisa says of Ghost Bird:
‘When an Aboriginal teen goes missing, her twin sister must hunt for clues, face down deeply ingrained racism, as well as social and cultural taboos to find the truth. Based in my hometown of Eidsvold, Ghost Bird is centred around my community, our culture, and our spiritual beliefs. The events and (most) of the characters are fictional, and yet writing this story has been a very personal journey. I hope readers see not just the hardships, the painful history and the hidden truths, but also the connection and joy to be found in culture, Country, community, and family. Our beliefs are not myths, we are not history, we are real people with the strength to survive anything, together.’
Ghost Bird has won and been shortlisted for multiple awards in Australia including the David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer in 2017, the Queensland Literary Award for a Young Adult Book, the Readings Prize for a Young Adult Book, the ACT Book of the Year, and being an Honour Book at the CBCA Awards.
Ghostbird was published on 21st October by Old Barn Books.
With thanks to Liz Scott P.R. for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book to review.