All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives, the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom. Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret. Then one blistering summer day, tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.
Wow. Like seriously, wow! The back cover of the book says this story will get under your skin and that is not a lie. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Set in Australia in the early 1970’s, this novel tackles a number of dark and disturbing topics, seen through the eyes of our narrator, eleven-year-old Tanya.
Tanya struggles at school. She’s not the prettiest, nor the skinniest but what she wants more than anything, is a happy family. Sadly her mother has suffered multiple miscarriages and this has left its mark. When finally baby Shelley joins the household, Tanya thinks things might be looking up and her wish of a happy family will come true. But then tragedy strikes and the family will never be the same again.
There’s also uncle Blackie who befriends Tanya. But why won’t anyone in the family talk about him? And why should Tanya keep their friendship a secret?
This book may be upsetting to some readers as it deals with mental issues and paedophilia, amongst others. It’s heartbreakingly sad and incredibly tense but so amazingly well written and I just couldn’t put it down. It’s powerful, authentic, realistic and believable. Having Tanya as a narrator works extremely well, especially when seeing things unfold no child her age should have to deal with.
Liza Perrat describes everything quite vividly. I’ve never been to Australia but had no problem imagining the hot summer temperatures, the sounds of the various animals and even the smells. Mentions of popstars of old and the fun Australian slang only added to the experience. As do many of the things that come out Nana Purvis’ mouth, fitting for that day and age.
The Silent Kookaburra is one gripping and compelling novel and I can’t recommend it enough.
Many, many thanks to Liza Perrat for sending me a copy of this novel. It was my utmost pleasure to read and review.
The Silent Kookaburra is out now.