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3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  322 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
From the moment he saw her wrapped in a blanket at the hospital, Jesse knew that he’d be the one to look after his little sister. Whentheir mother's appetite for destruction leads the little family into the arms of Ray Crow, Jesse sees the brooding violence and knows that, this time, the trouble is real. But Jesse is just a kid and even as he tries to save his sister, he m ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published 2011 by University of Queensland Press
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The Street Sweeper by Elliot PerlmanBlood by Tony BirchSpirit of Progress by Steven CarrollAll That I Am by Anna FunderSarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
Miles Franklin Longlist 2012
2nd out of 13 books — 7 voters
All That I Am by Anna FunderFoal's Bread by Gillian MearsBlood by Tony BirchCold Light by Frank MoorhousePast the Shallows by Favel Parrett
Miles Franklin 2012
3rd out of 5 books — 2 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 730)
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Sep 26, 2014 Mish rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mish by: Kaylene
This story is told by Jessie, a mature and intelligent thirteen year old boy who single-handedly raised his younger sister Rachel from birth.
Jessie has not had a stable life and is often left alone for long periods of time with his sister, while his delusional mum, Gwen, is sleeping off the effects of drugs or alcohol from last night party or hooking up with shady men. There is hardly any food and they are constantly hungry. As a result they resort to stealing and lying to get by.

It is when his
Jan 01, 2016 Trevor rated it really liked it
The story of Jesse and Rachel, and how they survive the trauma of their mother and her various no good boyfriends, is a wonderful read. The journey they take from Melbourne to Adelaide and back again is full of excitement, especially the trip back when they are attempting to get back un-noticed by boyfriends, hangers on and the police is tense and full of surprise. The story gripped me from the first page, and as the story unfurled it got better and better, and the ending was not quite what I wa ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing
If not yet recognised as such, this is classic Australiana. A childhood tale of endurance; these kids do it tough. As the story ebbed and flowed between good and evil, happiness and sadness, I longed for each new page to tell me things would work out ok.
May 16, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok
Blood, a debut novel by Tony Birch, has been shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award.

In the blurb at Fishpond, it’s described as ‘an epic moral fable, a gothic odyssey set on the back roads of Australia’. It’s the story of two kids, thirteen-year-old Jesse and his little sister Rachel, aged eight. They have the kind of mother they’d be better off without. Her name is Gwen.

That’s not me, sitting in judgement. It’s Jesse, who narrates this story, who tells us so. Gwen’s life is a disaster, a
Oct 18, 2012 Robyn rated it it was amazing
This book is a raw affecting read. It is narrated by thirteen year old Jesse. Jesse has a strong, almost parental, bond with younger half sister Rachel and a cynical eye for their mother Gwen. The story revolves around the trio, their transient lifestyle and the damaged characters Gwen introduces into the children's lives.
Author Tony Burke is brilliant at using a child's voice to portray this dysfunctional adult world. The book is at once compassionate, suspenseful and tragic.
Whilst I loved thi
Benjamin Solah
Jul 03, 2012 Benjamin Solah rated it it was amazing
I had come across Tony Birch during a class last semester on short fiction. We were introduced to Shadowboxing and I was struck by his well written working-class characters and his ability to impart meaning and depth of character in simple things like a father trying to teach his son boxing. It was also a realisation that I was beginning to enjoy this ‘minimalist’ style that I’ve been reading. I was also surprised to find that Blood is Birch’s debut novel, which seems like an inexact label given ...more
Jan 21, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It was easy for me to picture the film adaptation of this as I read, as Blood evokes the same dry summer heat, dusty landscapes and expanses of blue sky that are familiar in Australian film. Birch's depiction of both rural and (sub)urban landscapes is one of desolation and emptiness from the farmhouse, to Pop's run-down working class neighbourhood, to the ghost town and the silo where Jesse and Rachel wait futilely for the return of Gwen.

I don't think the book's plot is terribly original - a tro
Mar 11, 2014 Chris rated it it was amazing
This is a really gripping Australian story told from the eyes of a boy called Jesse. Having learned some harsh truths about his addict mother early on, when she brings baby Rachel home when he's five, he knows he will be the one to protect her.
There's nothing neat and tidy about reading 'Blood' - it's a gritty, facts-of-life type of read about the bond between two siblings and the struggles they go through thanks to their mother's terrible choices. This could come out of a newspaper story or an
Feb 02, 2013 Ursula rated it liked it
Recommended to Ursula by: Andi Ftw
Thrilling read, so hard to put down that I tore through it in a night. Birch really manages to depict milieu and language spoken. I developed strong visual images while reading and believe ‘Blood’ has all the ingredients for a great film. Maybe exactly because the plot is not always plausible, the ending's a tad too dramatic and the characters are very much drawn in black and white.
Attention screenwriters and directors.
Dec 20, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books
I loved this book. The story is told by Jesse, a 13 year-old boy who, with his 8 year-old sister, Rachel, struggle to survive the chaos, poverty, neglect and instability of life with their mother, Gwen. Gwen is constantly on the move – either running away from someone or chasing some hair-brained idea. She moves from one dodgy boyfriend to another in a life dominated by alcohol, drugs and partying. Throughout this, Jesse is determined to support and protect his little sister. He tells his story ...more
Mar 10, 2014 Rhys rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoff Wooldridge
Dec 13, 2014 Geoff Wooldridge rated it really liked it
Blood was a simply told tale, from the point of view of 13 year old Jesse, who vowed, in a pact sealed with blood, the look after his little sister Rachel, come what may.

Jesse and Rachel lived with their mother, Gwen, a women who has sunk to the lower rungs of human society, in a world of human adult dysfunction.

Following the death of her mother, Gwen's father became an alcoholic and Gwen went completely off the rails, making poor decisions about her life and especially the men she chose. Jesse
Oct 25, 2014 Kat rated it really liked it
When I was in Australia earlier this year, I specifically tried to hunt down a few books by Australian authors and Blood was one of the first that caught my eye. It's been a long time since I read a contemporary novel set in Australia, and I was intrigued by the synopsis, especially Blood is about the relationship between a brother and sister - something that always grabs my attention.

Jesse and Rachel are brother and sister that are bound together by both genetics and their reliance on each othe
Le koala Lit
Feb 28, 2013 Le koala Lit rated it liked it
Blood de Tony Birch, Penguin 2011
Indisponible en français

En 2012, ce roman de Tony Birch était nominé pour le Prix Littéraire Miles Franklin qui décerne une distinction à un roman représentant un des aspects de la vie ou de la culture australienne, et pourtant l’Australie n’est pas au cœur du roman. C’est plutôt le manque d’attachement à un endroit « à soi » qui caractérise ce livre.

Jesse 13 ans et Rachel 8 ans sont les protagonistes de Blood. Ils vivent avec leur mère, Gwen. Elle enchaîne les p
Sep 25, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
I saw Blood while browsing through the 50 Books you Can't Put Down Guide produced by the Get Reading Campaign 2012 and it sounded good but not something I would necessarily be drawn to but as it was also shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award, I thought I would give it a go.

I couldn't put it down, it was a very engrossing and also a somewhat harrowing read. Thirteen year old Jesse is the quintessential older brother, sworn to look out for his sister Rachel and protect her as best he can
Robyn Gibson
Jan 17, 2016 Robyn Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading Australian stories; and this one is good. A thirteen year old brother and younger sister who he's promised himself to protect forever. Their mother is hopeless and drags them round the countryside in a beat-up car. Jesse, the brother has become worldly through the faults of the mother and can fend for himself and his sister on their own. It's sad to think there are more than likely, children exactly like this pair.
Jan 20, 2016 Paul rated it liked it
The writing is first rate but the story is depressing and the mother Gwen, is not a character you want to see succeed , quite the opposite, the rest of the story centers on Jesse and his sister Rachael, who have to endure like with a drunk drug addict, whore (Gwen) for a mother, and her filthy boyfriends. As I said the writing is great so I think I will search it another book by the author.
Kylie Purdie
Apr 12, 2013 Kylie Purdie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-read
Blood is the story of two kids - Jesse and his younger sister Rachel. They lie a nomadic and unsettled life with their mother Gwen. Gwen does not keep the best company and her association with Ray leads to the three of them running across the country in the hunt for safety.
Once again Birch's writing pulls the reader right into the story. You are truly there as Jesse tries to protect his little sister. You feel Rachel's continuing devotion to Gwen and at the same time witness Jesse's growing dist
Apr 14, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
A very well written novel of a young boy trying to protect his younger half-sister, mainly from their dysfunctional mother. It is heart- breaking how little happiness they have in their lives and how their brief happy sojourn with their grandfather is cut short. For these two children to have the values and strengths they have is a miracle and you just hope everything turns out better for them.
Michael Livingston
Sep 03, 2014 Michael Livingston rated it really liked it
A tense, taut read, set amongst Birch's typically troubled characters, Blood tells the story of Jesse and Rachel, two kids whose lives are transient, loveless and deprived. The first half of the novel paints the bleak story of their lives, while the second ratchets up the tension with some edge-of-the-seat set pieces as the kids' lives completely fall apart around them.

The writing is punchy and minimalist, with not a wasted word and the characters (particularly of the kids) are solidly drawn. Th
Aug 18, 2015 Vireya rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, australia
A great read - I couldn't put it down. Some of the plot towards the end was a bit implausible, but I still had to keep reading to the end as fast as possible.
Jan 09, 2016 SarahJT rated it really liked it
This book made me think about how much good there is in the world and how thankful we should be for it because, out there, in the suburbs, in the country are deep, black cesspits of misery and squalor that envelope those caught within, whether child or adult. Jesse and Rachel's story is told in the simple, straightforward words of its thirteen year old protagonist, Jesse. His quest springs from love for his sister. It is a journey in search of love, home and security. The very basics most of us ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Jan rated it it was ok
I felt it was badly written. But an interesting story.. Hard and rough life for the family? The children grew up too quickly, but were exceptionally brave
Joey Diamond
Not my favourite Tony Birch - a bit too plot driven for my tastes but definitely compelling and moving.
Nov 03, 2011 Bec rated it it was amazing
Veering across a dusty, parched landscape “Blood” follows thirteen-year-old Jesse and his sister Rachel as they are tugged from home to home by their unstable mother Gwen. Jesse shies away from the notions of home and family, avoiding disappointment, while Rachel clings to it, desperately trying to find something solid. As the clouds gather, waiting to unleash a flood over the barren landscape, these two characters race towards an uncertain end, praying that something will save them.

Read my full
Lou Heinrich
Nov 25, 2015 Lou Heinrich rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australiana, 2015
I just read this in two hours. Couldn't stop!
Jul 12, 2015 Tegan rated it it was amazing
Exactly what young adult fiction should be.
Compelling and tragic.
Mike Flattley
Jul 10, 2014 Mike Flattley rated it really liked it
Great little read - sparse and evocative language matches the simplicity and poverty of the two kids at the centre of the tale, told with furious affection. There's something of an Australian 'Dicey's Song' here, albeit with the added heartbreak of unknown Indigenous paternity for the protagonist Jesse. My only criticism is that some of the plot points seemed a little contrived and lacked credulity towards the (gripping) finale. There were neat touches of Kulin Nation spirituality in the mix, ho ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it
The steadily building sense of dread you'll nurse as you read this book is a sad reminder that some kids never have a hope in life. Birch knows this, and conveys it soundly.
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What's The Name o...: Dysfunctional mother and two children [s] 11 29 Oct 22, 2013 10:39PM  
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Tony Birch is the author of Shadowboxing (2006), the short story collections Father’s Day (2009) and The Promise (UQP, 2014) and the novel Blood (UQP, 2011), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award. He is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne where he teaches in the School of Culture and Communication ...more
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