Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Set in 1970s America, this is a moving novel about 11-year-old Chirp, an avid birdwatcher who lives happily with her parents and elder sister on the beautiful salt marshes of Cape Cod. Their carefree lives are shattered when Chirp's mother, a dancer, is diagnosed with a debilitating illness, sending her into a pit of depression which has devastating consequences.

With tensions rising, Chirp seeks solace in her new friendship with Joey, a likable boy from an unsavoury neighbouring family, and they attempt to escape the pain of their miserable home lives.

This heartbreaking debut novel is beautifully written. The characters are sympathetically drawn and the complex issues of physical and mental illness, grief and guilt are explored with sensitivity. Highly recommended.

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