Billy Bird by Emma Neale, Pen­guin/Ran­dom House.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS -

Quirky chap­ter head­ings, doo­dles and a fair amount of bird talk, make this charmer as re­fresh­ingly in­di­vid­ual as Billy, the child at its core (or should that be “caw”?). Billy is fas­ci­nated by birds, and when tragedy strikes he be­gins to take on the per­sona of his feath­ered friends. His par­ents, Liam and Iris, don’t know how to han­dle their un­usual, highly in­tel­li­gent son. Nor are they cop­ing with their own grief. As well as all this, they move from Auck­land to Dunedin, where Liam is start­ing up a new busi­ness, but Iris is not happy about be­ing closer to earth­quake-hit Christchurch. With Billy’s bird-like be­hav­iour in­creas­ing in in­ten­sity, the fam­ily dy­namic falters, threat­en­ing to break apart. Beau­ti­fully writ­ten with sen­si­tiv­ity and hu­mour, this is a touch­ing look at how events can de­rail a fam­ily and what can be done to get it back on track.

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