As a fan of Liza Perrat’s Bone Angels trilogy, and having loved the first book in her Australian Family Drama series (The Silent Kookaburra), I was so excited to receive e-mail notification that the second Australia book, The Swooping Magpie, had been released. I immediately purchased it, and devoured the book in three days (it would have been less, if not for the day job).
You don’t need to read The Silent Kookaburra first (although why wouldn’t you?), as both novels stand totally alone. What they have in common are the setting of 1970s Australia, and the backdrop of social upheaval. Lindsay Townsend is a teenage girl whose parents – an alcoholic father with a tendency toward physical abuse, and a mother whose charity work is superseded only by her recurrent and debilitating migraines – are too wrapped up in their own lives to give Lindsay the attention she craves. Lindsay is by turns naively innocent and brazenly self-centered, sometimes bordering on obnoxious, but underneath the cocky veneer is a lonely child who only wants to be loved. This makes her the perfect target for Jon Halliwell, a dreamy schoolteacher with seduction – and worse – on his mind.
What follows is the troubling account of what a pregnant young girl, shuffled off to a home for unwed mothers, goes through as her pregnancy advances and she’s pressured to give up the child for adoption. What makes the story even more harrowing is that it’s based on true events. As the story unfolds, the tempestuous teenager becomes a woman far too soon, and readers will root for her and cry with her as she struggles to uncover the truth about her baby’s birth.