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HOW TO MAKE A BIRD by Martine Murray Kirkus Star


by Martine Murray & illustrated by Martine Murray

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-439-66951-1
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Setting off at dawn, carrying a backpack and wearing a long evening gown, Mannie aims to escape her troubled life in small-town southern Australia. It will take the entire novel, with abundant flashbacks, to explain why. Mannie has fashioned an identity, a narrative of herself and her future, from her beliefs about her gentle Australian father, flamboyant but unhappy French mother, older brother, Eddie—her mother’s favorite—and his friend Harry. In the 24 hours that elapse after she leaves, Mannie’s assumptions come undone and that personal narrative falls apart. Although Mannie’s defining attributes—acute self-consciousness and claustrophobic intensity—are hallmarks of many YA heroines, Murray’s powerful lyrical voice and close observation breathe new life into them. The story’s forward momentum is occasionally diverted by an outpouring of images and insights, but eventually Mannie and the readers get back on the road, and any detours just add to the pleasure. First published in Australia in 2003, the novel offers an especially vivid sense of place—the harsh but open rural landscape and densely populated yet lonely, urban Melbourne. (Fiction. YA)