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.
Whilst on the face of it The Silent Kookaburra is classed as a thriller / suspense novel, for me I have to say it was also about coming of age; that’s one of the things that came through here for me, the move from child to teenager for Tanya, the novel’s storyteller, and the confusion that comes with it.
Tanya isn’t a happy child, and no wonder. Her mother is depressed – the result of multiple failed pregnancies – when baby Shelley comes along, lighting up all their lives with her perfect babyness. A new baby, though, doesn’t necessarily mean the stress and tensions from before really go away and, in many ways, the family carry on as before – with her mom displaying symptoms of OCD, Tanya overeating, her dad drinking and her nanna generally grumbling and groaning.It’s no wonder then, with all this simmering under the surface, that it doesn’t take much to make the family fall apart, which is what happens one summer; nothing, it seems, will ever be the same again. Struggling to cope, Tanya finds herself drawn to an uncle who she had not met before – heard of even – and who is the black sheep of the family; no one wants to know him; no one talks about him. Tanya, though, can’t resist – at least for a while. Then she starts to think maybe her family has a point…the question is, it is too late?
As the days gets hotter, the tension builds. Without spoilers it’s hard to say much more but I do feel that I need to say that the subject matter isn’t all pleasant here – there are scenes I wasn’t particularly comfortable reading. That isn’t to say they weren’t well done, Lisa Perrat handled them well I think, but they weren’t necessarily for me and I’m not sure I was completely satisfied with the outcome.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t satisfied with the book. I was. I thought it was well written, and – whilst I’ve never visited Australia – I could picture myself there. The book feels rich in the era and the country and the attitudes of the time (which don’t seem that different from the UK, though there were more BBQs!). Lisa Perrat has a nice writing style, with the story building slowly, letting you get to know the characters and start to care for them.
If I had one complaint, it would be actually that it could have gone on a little longer. I felt the final few chapters were a bit rushed, which didn’t matched up with the rest of the book. There was also the dreaded (for me) epilogue. Here, though, they worked and gave a final twist in the tale which was unexpected and left me not quite sure what I’d read and with questions that will never be answered. It was a good way to leave the story and left me really liking this book.
I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.