Kelly McCaughrain, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, Walker Books Australia, 1 May 2018, 384pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781406375657
Characters who are twins also bring an extra level of meaning to any story: our fascination with the similarities and differences between co-born siblings is endless. In Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, debut author Kelly McCaughrain has created a pair of twins, Finch and Birdie Franconi, who are similarly talented and equally focused on their skill as trapeze artists. Their partnership is also a metaphor for their relationship, and imagery of birds abounds, not least in the character names. Outsiders at school, Finch and Birdie concentrate on the family circus to establish their identity. Their family is definitely not mainstream.
When his sister Birdie has a fatal accident practicing solo (and why did she do such a dangerous thing?) Finch must carry on alone and find his own individual talent. A new friend, Hector, is also struggling to find his way, burdened with high expectations from a domineering parent. Finch and Hector work through doubts and difficulties to develop a double clowning act for the circus show, and at last realise that they are attracted to each other in a special way.
Birdie begins to recover, mysteries are solved, and the characters reach a new state of normal. The twins are shown to develop their own paths for life ahead. An engaging and tender book. Highly recommended for early teens.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke