Author: Penny Mathews
Publisher: Walker Book Australia
Date of Publication: August 2018
Ages: 9 -14 years
Reviewer: Michele Ayres
Job title: Librarian
School: Motueka High School
Loneliness can be hard to bear for some. Your imagination may even play tricks on you. Or does it?
Finch, written by Penny Mathews is published in Australia. Conservation, birdwatching, relationships, lifestyle changes, economics, challenges and identity - there are any number of topical issues to explore in this story.
And there are a range of characters for students to identify with. The main character is Audrey, a teenager who must overcome adversity and find her place in the world. A move from the city to a lifestyle block challenges Audrey’s whole family. Chloe, Audrey’s sister, finds adaptation thrilling and makes a new friend easily “ Her name was Emma and her mum owned Goosey Gander…. cafe”
By useful contrast Audrey immerses herself in bird research and exploring their new property. It seems the ‘nerd girl’ label has followed her from her old school to new, but Audrey debunks this by making a new friend from a neighbouring property - someone whom she can share her bird passion with - “that was a sacred Kingfisher! Todiramphus sanctus!” But her new friend Finch is someone mysterious, with his own secrets.
Those secrets are for the reader to discover where life and death play their part - and Penny Mathews explores this with sensitivity - from humans to birds to cats.
The reader must decide for themselves which version of the story they prefer. Was it real or Audrey’s imagination? This is a well-paced topical, but also imaginative tale that leaves one asking, but what if….?