How To Make A Bird

( 1 )

Overview


A beautiful novel that captures the aching of a teenager ready to heal.

It's dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she's about to leave. Mannie's ready to start a new life and forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother ...

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How To Make A Bird

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Overview


A beautiful novel that captures the aching of a teenager ready to heal.

It's dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she's about to leave. Mannie's ready to start a new life and forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother who's always overshadowed her, and his friend Harry Jacob, who just might be Mannie's boyfriend . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
In her mother's red dress, Mannie leaves the quiet country and heads to Melbourne, Australia. She has business there or she may just travel further; she is not exactly sure. Her grandmother lives in Melbourne so she can start there. As Mannie travels, she relives memories of her spirited mother, her quiet father and her rebellious brother, Eddie. She also reflects on feelings for Harry, Eddie's friend. As Mannie visits with her grandmother, Mannie realizes that her grandmother needs to live with Mannie and her father. She also faces her brother's death and her mother's departure to France. While the writing in this novel is very good, it is too introspective and lyrical to appeal to most teenage readers. In spite of some profanity, a brief sexual situation and the hint of romance between Harry and Mannie, the introspection takes away from Mannie's trip to Melbourne. Also, some of the Australian words may be somewhat unfamiliar to American readers. Some teenage readers with literary aspirations might stick with this book; most young adults would become aggravated over the story's slow pace. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
VOYA - Dawn Talbott
This novel recounts a day in the life of seventeen-year-old Australian Mannie Clarkson. On a trip to Melbourne to get some answers about some of the mysteries of her existence, flashbacks tell the story of a girl who has experienced much sadness and confusion and, ultimately, has to make some decisions about her life. While there is a lot of poetic language, symbolism, and description in this selection, there is also a great deal of extraneous information and detail that give the impression of an immature protagonist with an attention disorder. The random jumping from one time or place to another gives the story a fragmented feel, as it takes nearly 300 pages to describe a couple of seemingly uneventful days in a young girl's life. There is a an odd juxtaposition between narration that feels as though it was provided by a twelve-year-old girl, and content that is much more mature. It is unsettling and amplifies the disjointed feel of the book. On the whole, How to Make a Bird is a book of two worlds—the present and many moments in the past—and includes an immature character going through adult events. If the author was trying to span these two worlds, more care should have been taken to bring them together in some way because the bridge is very weak, and the novel suffers for it. Reviewer: Dawn Talbott
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Fed up with her boring country life and thrown off-kilter by recent family tragedies, 17-year-old Mannie dons her mother's long red dress, boards a train to Melbourne, and sets off into the world planning to get as far away from her everyday existence as possible. Though she starts her journey feeling sure that she is doing right by herself, she encounters memories from her past that tug at her heart and shake her resolve. Should she truly move on to become a new version of herself or go back home and make the best of her situation? The transitions between Mannie's present day and past are integrated seamlessly. The time period is the late '70s, but this is only revealed in small hints (e.g., a passing mention that Star Wars is in theaters). The story itself, while well written, is not exciting, and Mannie is not easy to identify with. The only scenes evoking any emotion are the ones with her Grandmother Ivy, and when she recounts her brother's death. Despite the author's ability as a wordsmith, readers are not likely to stick with this story to the end.—Melyssa Malinowski, Parkville High School, Baltimore, MD
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439669511
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author


Martine Murray is the author of THE SLIGHTLY TRUE STORY OF CEDAR B. HARTLEY, which received three starred reviews and was named to Booklist's roundup of Top Ten First Novels for Youth. She lives in Victoria, Australia.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    introspective and honest, but not a clean read

    Early one morning, 17 year-old Mannie Clarkeson leaves home for good on her bicycle wearing her mother's red evening gown. As she embarks on her journey, we discover bit-by-bit through flashback scenes why she left. This beginning and the title hooked me immediately. Mannie's mother is mentally unstable, her father kind and protective to a fault, her brother the center of attention, and Harry, his friend, different from the other young men. Then one night, an event shatters all their lives and Mannie must learn to face the truth and appreciate what she has, after mourning what she's lost.

    Author Martine Murray has a way of writing that draws in the reader in this coming-of-age story. It is introspective, brutally honest and lyrical. Manny is a quirky vulnerable girl. Seeing the world through her eyes is intriguing and reminded me of my teen years. I ached for this teenager who had to contend with great losses in her life. I liked the role the grandparents played in her life and that Mannie recognized the goodness in the people close to her that she failed to see initially when she focused on their faults as she struggled with emotional pain. This was a big mature step for a girl who grew up without much guidance.

    As much as I liked being in the character's head because of my psychology background, I cannot recommend it as a clean read. Apart from the profanity and some vulgar words, it has a scene with an exhibitionist that is explicit, several references to sexual situations, and a scene that involves drugs. It's unknown if Mannie had sex with Harry but it is alluded. As a parent and an adult I appreciated this novel as it clearly demonstrated that a lack of communication, outward display of love and affection, and moral guidance could leave a child lost and hurting. But I question why novels today that are targeted at our youth (12 and up) contain such explicit elements. I understand the aspect of realism but my concern is for the impressionistic and beautiful minds of our youth.

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