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The Messenger Bird

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Never before has Tamar felt so alone. Her older brother is dead, her mum’s away and her dad’s so wrapped up in restoring their ancient farmhouse he avoids talking about the things that really matter. Even friendly new neighbour Gavin can’t get through to her, despite his eager attempts.

When Tamar discovers an old handwritten sheet of music and allows herself to play piano
Paperback, 264 pages
Published 2012 by University of Queensland Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  88 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Anne Hamilton
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars.

A YA timeslip book that's really difficult to categorise. It tiptoes on the edge of magic realism but that doesn't quite describe it accurately.

Some spoilers may follow:

Tamar is a young teen who has just lost her adored older brother in a car accident. He'd invited her to go for a drive but she was busy with her music. She feels sure he'd still be alive if only she'd agreed to go with him that day.

Every other chapter is told from the point of view of Gavin who has moved
Adele Jones
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars.
I've not yet been disappointed by Rosanne Hawke's work, and this was no exception. As always, Hawke tackles complex family issues of loss and grief with sensitivity and appropriate struggle. The fantasy element was an interesting aspect of this well drawn novel, and I found I could really relate to Tamar's sense of finding herself in music, which ultimately linked her to another time and place. The roughhewn larrikin, but good hearted character of Gavin offered a lighter fe
Ruth Bonetti
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
After a few chapters I felt dubious about the main character's relationship with a long dead ancestor. And I found myself skipping her journal entries. But it grew on me. One way to work through and handle her grief for a dead brother, but I still am not clear how much to credit to imagination as opposed to some metaphysical realm. ...more
Linsey Painter
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Messenger Bird is a gorgeous book. Tamar and her family are grieving the loss of Tamar's older brother. Each locked in their own world of grief and trying hard to protect each other, they have built up walls around themselves and separated from the world. When Tamar discovers a sheet of music and an old photograph she gradually finds the key to unlock not only her own doorway to freedom but also those of her mother and father.
This book is full of beautiful folktales, music and characters. It is
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved it and was in tears by the end. The delicately simple and rounded language that Rosanne Hawke uses suits the setting and vibe of the story so well. It's just beautiful. ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved how this book blended a more traditional YA fantasy element, of time travel etc. with a real grounding in the emotional complexities and struggles of the individual characters. Whilst the references to pop-culture felt a bit weighted, the exploration of folklore and the idea of the messenger bird is really beautifully developed. I enjoyed the struggles between the characters and the perspective shifts created an interesting dynamic. Highly reccomend
Chandra Henderson
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Normally I hate books about Australia but this one was amazing 10/10 would recommend.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the story of Tamara, a young teenager suffering from the death of her beloved, older brother. With the help of Gavin, who works for Tamara's father and Nathaniel, a mysterious boy from the past, Tamara gradually learns to live again.

The Messenger Bird is a gentle story with a nice touch of time travel woven through it. The chapters alternate between Tamara and Gavin, with the occasional chapter going back in time to allow the reader to further understand Nathaniel's story. Music plays an
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love books involving time travel. I don't know if I've mentioned this before. What I loved about the time travel aspect of this book was how the characters dealt with it - not in a 'we need to figure this out and go back in time to kill Hitler!' way, but in a 'so this is happening, how interesting, what does this mean?'. Despite this novel being full of incredibly sad events and dark moments, it's really very sweet - Tamar is a beautiful character, and the entire book is very dream-like. Tamar ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: stay-away
I was thinking about what I would if I were to stop living in the next 10 minutes.
My answer was to stop reading this book.

Boring boring boring.

Shit all happened, the characters were one dimensional, and it didn't make sense. The only person I actually liked was Gavin, but for some reason, Rosanna Hawke decided to make his passages have gramatical errors (maybe to differentiate the voices? who knows) which only served to piss me off.

Some guy appears from the 1800s and Tamar hardly questions it?
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was a tear jerker to say the least. The main character deals with the death of her brother and the guilt that she feels about it, no one really told her everything about the car crash which causes her to feel really guilty. She's convinced that she should have been in the car with him. She has a love of music but since his death she hasn't played anything because she didn't go with him because she wanted to practice. She meets a ghost who helps her to rekindle her love for music and de ...more
Pam Saunders
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Set in rural South Australia, a family is having serious problems dealing with the death of the eldest son. Missed by all, we learn of his world through his sister who's desire for his return is so great it pulls another fine young man from the past to comfort her. Their music, compassion and friendship help with some of the pain and guilt. A book of moods complimented by a beautiful cover. Tempted to give it 5 stars. ...more
Jun 10, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: People who like sad storys
Recommended to Jessica by: Me
I picked this book up from the school library because it was new and I loved the cover. I instantly fell in love with Gavin, (even though he's Australian) and Tamar is just beautiful. I was hoping they'd kiss in the end, but they didn't and that was the only put down. All-round it was a great book. ...more
The prose stuttered a bit and there weren't any messenger birds and everyone was a wee bit underdeveloped and the time travel made no sense... but I still really enjoyed this book. I really liked the characters voices and I loved the story of a journey to healing, romance free. ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nice story for teens dealing with how death of a loved one affects the whole family in different ways. Interesting use of time slip to get at the history of the farm and again how characters deal with death. Like how it swapped from boy to girl and then back in the past for different perspectives.
Lyn Battersby
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: awards
Lyn is a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This review is the personal opinion of Lyn herself, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

I will be rating this once the AAs are announced.
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I adored this book, I love how the author has written the character of Tamar and her family.
Madeline Cassin
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An emotional rollercoaster! Definitely recommend to anyone with a love for music and adventures.
I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I have :)
Jahid Hasan
rated it really liked it
Jun 25, 2017
Joanne Isabelle
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2013
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Aug 24, 2012
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Mar 28, 2015
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Murene Cassai
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Jun 25, 2012
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Jun 28, 2013
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Claire Belberg
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Sep 19, 2014
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Mar 19, 2016
rated it it was ok
Apr 12, 2013
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When little I ran around with a jotter and a pencil, pretending to write a story but not knowing how to spell any words except Dick, Dora and cat. My mother asked me to tell stories. A lot of my stories stayed in my head, as being the youngest and living in the country didn't bring many opportunities for an audience. I was born in Penola, in South Australia. We had a sheep farm until I was six, th ...more

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