What the Birds See by Sonya Hartnett

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Synopsis

Entwining a tale of missing children with the story of a lonely little boy, Sonya Hartnett captures the tenderness and dread of childhood in a work of exceptional storytelling.


The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory. His best friend is Clinton Tull. Adrian loves to draw, and he wants a dog. He’s afraid of quicksand, shopping centers, and self-combustion. But as closely as he watches his suburban world, there is much he cannot understand. He does not, for instance, know why three neighborhood children might set out to buy ice cream one summer’s day and never be seen again. . . .

In this suburb that is no longer safe and innocent, in a broken family of self-absorbed souls, Sonya Hartnett sets the story of a lone little boy - unwanted, unloved, and intensely curious - a story as achingly beautiful as it is shattering. As her quiet tale ominously unfolds, we are reminded of how fragile are the threads that hold us secure - and how brave, how precious, is the heart of each child who soldiers on.
 

About Sonya Hartnett

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Sonya Hartnett is the author of THURSDAY'S CHILD and several other acclaimed novels - the first written when she was just thirteen - and the recipient of many prestigious awards in her native Australia. Of WHAT THE BIRDS SEE, she says, "The Metford children are based on three children who went missing here in Australia in the late sixties and were never found. The abduction of a child is an emotive subject, and I was wary of using someone else's tragedy for my own purpose, so I deliberately kept the crime in the background of the book. Adrian is me in many respects, and many of the things that happen to him happened to me.
 
Published February 1, 2003 by Candlewick. 208 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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There is no great cataclysmic ending, no blinding revelation here, however—just a series of small, child-sized cataclysms, ignored by those who should love Adrian and drowned out by media ravings over the lost children.

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The Guardian

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She has been accused of writing 'grim lit' but she defends her bleaker take on life by pointing out that she writes not for children, but for herself.

Jan 19 2003 | Read Full Review of What the Birds See

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