For the forest of a bird by Sue Saliba
Penguin, 2015. ISBN 9780143571780
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Change. Perception. Divorce. Environment. Nella has a secret vigil. She waits by the creek for the return of the swallows in spring, believing that her father, like the swallows, will return home. At home, her mother's mental illness has become worse since the divorce and Nella and her older brother have found it very difficult to cope. When her father has a heart attack, Nella is convinced that this is the right time for him to return home and prepares a room for him. But life has unexpected twists and turns, as Nella discovers.
Sue Saliba's writing is beautiful. Each page is a lyrical journey into the feelings of a teen who desperately believes that her father wouldn't abandon her. The reader discovers the bleakness of her home life with a mother who can't cope at all and a brother who is angry and doesn't communicate. It is easy to empathize with Nella as she journeys to Phillip Island where her father has been living and uncovers the life that he now lives. The reader gains a deep insight into the nature of perception and change and how people can have a very different slant on the same thing. This is a message that is important for the reader as well as Nella to uncover.
The beauty of Phillip Island rings out with the descriptions of the wildlife and forests and people aspiring to help the environment will be inspired by the actions of the girl that Nella meets on the island. It is this friendship that ultimately helps Nella to understand about loss and abandonment.
This is a lyrical coming of age story, beautifully and evocatively written. It is not very long, but it covers many themes in a unique way that I have found impossible to describe in a review. I believe that it would be a wonderful class novel or book for a literature circle to explore.