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December 16, 2019


#AWW 2019 Victorian Literary Best YA Novel

by N@ncy

  • Author Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
  • Title: Catching Teller Crow
  • Genre: ghost story (speculative fiction)
  • Reading time:  2 hrs  40 min
  • Published: 2019
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters 
  • Trivia:  2019 Winner Aurealis Award  Best Young Adults Novel
  • Trivia: 2019  Winner Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Best Writing for Young Adults.



  1. A ghost girl who is staying with her father while he grieves.
  2. In doing so, she begins to help him with a murder mystery.



  1. The hook is the concept  that Officer Teller’s
  2. assistant while investigating a series of murders
  3. …is his daughter’s…ghost!
  4. Another hook is the witness’s statement that
  5. “This thing didn’t start with the fire…It started at sunset” (pg 24)
  6. And who is Tansy Webster and her angels?  Wings flapping? (pg 94)
  7. Now readers are turning pages
  8. ….curious….tension!



  1. Loss of a loved one and the stages of mourning or
  2. grief are overriding themes.
  3. Injustice towards the Aboriginal people
  4. …is also a strong theme.


Parallels: Mike Teller vs Derek Bell

  1. Both Officer Michael Teller (Beth’s Dad) and
  2. Officer Derek Bell grew up in small town and
  3. their fathers were also cops!
  4. Gerry Bell and  Officer Teller sr.


Parallels:  Father and daughter –>  epiphany moments (pg 132)

  1. Both Beth (daughter) and  Mike Teller (father) have
  2. epiphany moments:
  3. Beth realizes she does not belong here (with the living). (pg 130)
  4. Mike Teller realizes he is blaming himself
  5. …for an accident he could not prevent.
  6. He feels he failed his daughter.
  7. He was holding on to a burden
  8. …something that was not his to bear. (pg 133)


Contrasts:  Father  vs son  (pg 132)

  1. Officer Michael teller does not want to be like his
  2. racist father. He was a police officer who did not do
  3. enough to protect the Aboriginals.
  4. Mike did not want to be one of those
  5. people who didn’t pay attention.
  6. Officer Teller took any injustice
  7. ….personally (wife was Aboriginal)
  8. when Aboriginals  are not treated right.


Contrasts:  Beth in “Catching Teller Crow”  vs  Else in “The Endsister”

  1. Narrator Beth is just about the same age as Else in The Endsister
  2. One is dead….one is still alive
  3. …one is cheerful….and one is confused, isolated.
  4. Beth shows no signs of ‘the teenage brain’ as did Else.
  5. It seems once you’ve died…all your problems disappear!
  6. ….mood swings, erratic behavior, ill-tempered….
  7. I will try to find a moment in Beth’s
  8. narration that shows her in a bad mood!
  9. Yes, she does cry….she had to make an important decision
  10. …about the colours.


Strong point:  Beth’s ghost is Detective M. Teller’s assistant

  1. This is a great plot device.
  2. Beth can linger in places once
  3. her father has left to eavesdrop
  4. on suspects conversations and actions!
  5. #Clever


Strong point:    Role reversal literary device  (pg 11)

  1. “He and I were the reverse of each other:
  2. I couldn’t remember my death;
  3. Dad couldn’t remember my life…” (pg 11)
  4. Another role reversal….
  5. Dad was looking after Beth when his wife died.
  6. That had kept Dad going.
  7. Now Beth was looking after her Dad
  8. ….to keep him going. (pg 13)



Strong point:  Writing style varies… for certain effects!

  1. Chapters about CATCHING...
  2. Isobel  speaks in staccato sentences.
  3. Staccato sentences are short and often emphatic to
  4. focus the reader or listener on content.
  5. This technique borrowed from poetry intensifies
  6. Catching’s aboriginal storytelling…
  7. with base emotions….earthy!
  8. This conveys certain kinds of emotions in particular,
  9. namely fear, anxiety, anger, confusion and stress.


Strong point:     Izzy’s storytelling

  1. These chapters are fun to read.
  2. You can lose yourself in them…
  3. let you imagination soar.
  4. I’m sure YA readers can find something
  5. in these tellings to hold on to.
  6. I enjoyed these next few lines:
  7. — Courage eats fear.
  8. — Joy eats sadness.
  9. — Choose the opposite of grey.


#NoWeakPoints !!



  1. This was absolutely a stunning novel!
  2. I’ve never been so entertained reading YA fiction.
  3. I think the storytelling (Aboriginal influences) was spot on.
  4. But  the most important part of the book  for me
  5. ….was how people dealt with grief. (Officer Mike Teller)
  6. They say time is a healer.
  7. But grief is always in the hollow of your heart.
  8. It’s just waiting for something to shake it out.
  9. Beth was there to shake it out of her Dad.
  10. Because loss never really leaves you.
  11. Loss alters you.
  12. #MustRead….worthy winner
  13. Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  14. Best Young Adults Novel 2019


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 17 2019

    I have no idea about why I never got around to reading this book. Perhaps the title or Aust cover didn’t capture my imagination? But your cover & this amazing review have me hooked now!
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention Nancy.


    • Dec 17 2019

      So glad I can offer some insights…so that the book will trigger your interest! You have offered me many books via you blog in that way. Reading ‘audio books’ this week and hope next week once the 2nd eye has recovered from surgery….to attempt a book on my Kindle! One thing I can do at the moment is make reading/challenge lists for 2020!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan 5 2020

    Hey Nancy, have included this in the December/Year End round up – I found your way of setting the review out interesting and it stands out against some other formats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan 5 2020

      Thank you so much…! Reading two books about teenagers within a few days was a golden opportunity to compare how each girl was behaving. Actually it is a tip I will remember…try to ‘pair’ 2 books to create a interesting review!

      Liked by 1 person


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