Sue Saliba, For the Forest of a Bird, Penguin Books, 28 January 2015, $17.99(pbk) 208pp., ISBN: 9780143571780
The swallows return every spring, it gives Nella comfort and hope, something she can rely on since her father’s leaving and her mother becoming ill.
Fifteen year old Nella loves the natural world; hearing and feeling its wonder she escapes as often as she can from the suffocating environment of her inner city Melbourne home to the nearby creek lands. Here Nella can sleep, dream and have flights of fantasy, like the swallows, imagining a future in which her father will return and they can share their love of nature together down by the creek. A life-changing event however carries Nella far from her dream to the beachside wilderness of Philip Island outside Melbourne. Here, Nella must face the reality of her father’s ‘other life,’ quite different to the future of which she dreams.
Like most journeys Nella finds that by facing life’s challenges, in all their confusion and messiness, she gains greater insight and understanding into herself and others. In her new space Nella also finds a new wilderness and new friends.
Winner of a number of awards for previous novels, Something in the World Called Love and Alaska, Saliba’s latest book is a beautiful poetic dream of consciousness story of a young girl’s love, sadness, resilience and acceptance of the things she cannot change. It is a story about growing up. This is a novel that quietly sings. Highly recommended 13+
reviewed by Mem Capp