- 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
- Trivia: 2019 Winner Aurealis Award Best Young Adults Novel
- Trivia: 2019 Winner Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
- Best Writing for Young Adults.
- A ghost girl who is staying with her father while he grieves.
- In doing so, she begins to help him with a murder mystery.
- The hook is the concept that Officer Teller’s
- assistant while investigating a series of murders
- …is his daughter’s…ghost!
- Another hook is the witness’s statement that
- “This thing didn’t start with the fire…It started at sunset” (pg 24)
- And who is Tansy Webster and her angels? Wings flapping? (pg 94)
- Now readers are turning pages
- Loss of a loved one and the stages of mourning or
- …grief are overriding themes.
- Injustice towards the Aboriginal people
- …is also a strong theme.
Parallels: Mike Teller vs Derek Bell
- Both Officer Michael Teller (Beth’s Dad) and
- Officer Derek Bell grew up in small town and
- their fathers were also cops!
- Gerry Bell and Officer Teller sr.
Parallels: Father and daughter –> epiphany moments (pg 132)
- Both Beth (daughter) and Mike Teller (father) have
- epiphany moments:
- Beth realizes she does not belong here (with the living). (pg 130)
- Mike Teller realizes he is blaming himself
- …for an accident he could not prevent.
- He feels he failed his daughter.
- He was holding on to a burden
- …something that was not his to bear. (pg 133)
Contrasts: Father vs son (pg 132)
- Officer Michael teller does not want to be like his
- racist father. He was a police officer who did not do
- enough to protect the Aboriginals.
- Mike did not want to be one of those
- people who didn’t pay attention.
- Officer Teller took any injustice
- ….personally (wife was Aboriginal)
- when Aboriginals are not treated right.
Contrasts: Beth in “Catching Teller Crow” vs Else in “The Endsister”
- Narrator Beth is just about the same age as Else in The Endsister
- One is dead….one is still alive
- …one is cheerful….and one is confused, isolated.
- Beth shows no signs of ‘the teenage brain’ as did Else.
- It seems once you’ve died…all your problems disappear!
- ….mood swings, erratic behavior, ill-tempered….
- I will try to find a moment in Beth’s
- narration that shows her in a bad mood!
- Yes, she does cry….she had to make an important decision
- …about the colours.
Strong point: Beth’s ghost is Detective M. Teller’s assistant
- This is a great plot device.
- Beth can linger in places once
- her father has left to eavesdrop
- on suspects conversations and actions!
Strong point: Role reversal literary device (pg 11)
- “He and I were the reverse of each other:
- I couldn’t remember my death;
- Dad couldn’t remember my life…” (pg 11)
- Another role reversal….
- Dad was looking after Beth when his wife died.
- That had kept Dad going.
- Now Beth was looking after her Dad
- ….to keep him going. (pg 13)
Strong point: Writing style varies… for certain effects!
- Chapters about CATCHING...
- Isobel speaks in staccato sentences.
- Staccato sentences are short and often emphatic to
- focus the reader or listener on content.
- This technique borrowed from poetry intensifies
- Catching’s aboriginal storytelling…
- with base emotions….earthy!
- This conveys certain kinds of emotions in particular,
- namely fear, anxiety, anger, confusion and stress.
Strong point: Izzy’s storytelling
- These chapters are fun to read.
- You can lose yourself in them…
- let you imagination soar.
- I’m sure YA readers can find something
- in these tellings to hold on to.
- I enjoyed these next few lines:
- — Courage eats fear.
- — Joy eats sadness.
- — Choose the opposite of grey.
- This was absolutely a stunning novel!
- I’ve never been so entertained reading YA fiction.
- I think the storytelling (Aboriginal influences) was spot on.
- But the most important part of the book for me
- ….was how people dealt with grief. (Officer Mike Teller)
- They say time is a healer.
- But grief is always in the hollow of your heart.
- It’s just waiting for something to shake it out.
- Beth was there to shake it out of her Dad.
- Because loss never really leaves you.
- Loss alters you.
- #MustRead….worthy winner
- Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
- Best Young Adults Novel 2019
- Author: N.L. King
- Title: Jenna’s Truth
- Published: 2016
- List Reading Challenges 2018
- Monthly reading planning
- Ms King expresses the emotions of a young girl
- that feel universal…timeless. We all at one point
- have felt being an outsider in school….it hurts.
- The devil is in the details.…and Ms King knows that!
- I rarely read in stories about women’s perfume.
- People I remember from school had signature fragrances.
- It was your ‘calling card’… L’Air du Temps, Blue Grass, Miss Dior.
- Jenna can finally sit next to Tina
- ….the in-crowd… and whiff her perfume.
- Ms. Nadia has translated a tragic story of Amanda Todd
- into a poignant book.
- The book is enriched with teaching notes and
- discussion questions.
- Sometimes young people don’t know how
- tell people they are being bullied.
- Ms. King has added a ‘need help’ page with
- addresses and phone numbers children can call.
- Here I am a 60+’er reading about the
- pain of being an outsider (Jenna) in high-school.
- Ms King describes details that STILL resonate
- …taking me back to the 1960’s.
- It seems then and now
- ….the feeling when someone saves
- you a seat in class is “like basking in the sun” !
- And yes, I agree with Ms King and her character Jenna
- “Physics never made any sense.“
- Of course Insta page, selfies and Snapchat are new
- …but that just adds to the 21st C feel of the book.
- This book deserves the praise it has reaped.
- Young girls should be aware…
- There is so much more to life
- …being snubbed or bad-mouthed,
- and worst of all cyber-bullying by puerile girls.
- I’ll tell you a two secrets….
- I had this book flown in from Australia!
- I read the book aloud to my cats.
- It was great fun and I could put on my snarky voice.
- But this does not dampen
- …the effect the book had on me.
- So young, so unhappy with life
- ….so tragic, I can hardly imagine
- …the pain Jenna/Amanda Todd went through.
- #Cyberbulling must stop.
- Author: E. Suvada
- Title: This Mortal Coil (48 chapters; 425 pages)
- Published: 2017
- Trivia: Shortlisted for best YA novel in the 2017 Aurealis Awards
- Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta.
- He is a legendary geneticist who has been kidnapped
- by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus.
- Cat is left to survive the last two years on her own.
- She can no longer escape involvement with the Cartaxus.
- This is where it gets personal.
- Cole, a Cartaxus soldier, arrives with
- …news that her father has been killed.
- Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie.
- But Cole also brings a message.
- Before Dr. Lachlan died…
- he managed to create a vaccine against the killing virus.
- Cole needs Cat’s genius-hacker skills to
- …crack Cartaxus’ encrypted code and save the human race.
- Classic hook: the reader is in the middle of the action
- ….then chapter two begins with:
- “Two years earlier….”
- The characters are in a technological wonderland with
- a hellishly corporate backdrop (Cartaxus).
- “They want your brain, but don’t need your legs” (ch 2)
- Cat Agatta (hacker nickname: Bobcat)
- must use all her skills to decode her late father’s message.
- But is her father, Dr. Lalhan Agatta….really dead?
- There is a lot to digest in this book.
- The reader who loves…
- computers – files – servers – code – apps – databases
- …smash-and-grab hacking, Fibonacci search technique
- …ribbons of synthetic DNA
- …and swarms of drones…will love this book.
- If you are not tech-savvy…you may lose interest.
- The book tackles challenging issues:
- …a daughter trying to understand (break free of) her father
- ..a daughter mapping out
- …her boundaries in ethics (DNA) and in love.
- In YA books….the voice of the young includes
- …lots of swearing.
- Not in this book….just a few shit’s, batshit and shitloads.
- M.J. Ward in Psynode cleverly avoided this problem of swearing
- …that might influence gatekeepers and not include the book
- …in school libraries.
- She used her urban-brand of swearing…fugg and shiz!
- Of course YA would not be YA without
- …a love triangle Dax – Cat – Cole.
- blurring the boundary between romance/erotica.
- “We spent the week trying to ignore
- …the energy crackling between us,
- like two humming electrodes just waiting for a spark.”
- Hmmm… personally I prefer words like:
- “We’ll always have Paris.” in a love scene.
- Not planning to read Suvada’s #2 book in this series.
- …It is just “not my thing.”
- I am looking forward to Sally Abbott’s next SF book.
- Try reading Abbott’s Closing Down
- ..and see if you agree with me! (score: 5 star)