Title: This Bird Flew Away
Author: Lynda M. Martin
Reviewed by Jayne Fordham, The Australian Bookshelf, April 20, 2011
WOW. What a read.
The story begins with Bria, at ten years old she has already had a tough life. Domestic violence coupled with physical and emotional abuse, Bria’s notion of the world is formed based on these early experiences. When she is abandoned by her mother after the death of her step father, Bria is taken in by Jack and his aunt Mary for a short while before she goes off to live with other relatives along with her half-sister Tara. Bria strikes up a trusting friendship with Jack who is thirteen years her senior. He is studying to be a lawyer and becomes one of the few people in her life who she can truly count on.
Bria, a determined and strong-willed young girl makes the decision to leave home and get help for her and Tara and save them from further abuse. She runs away in search of Jack, but doesn’t make it. She becomes a victim of the child sex trade. She is only twelve.
When Bria is reunited with Jack and Mary her sense of self is damaged and she struggles to make sense of her experience and feel safe again. Bria’s strength and determination is amazing and it gets her through this turbulent time along with the help of her trusting friend Jack.
This story shows us how a young child’s innocence is stolen, and how she fights back and tries to make sense of this scary, unsafe world.
This story is told from the perspectives of Bria and her aunt Mary. I was instantly drawn in and felt Bria’s pain, confusion and anger alongside her. I cried. I laughed. I hoped that she would find happiness. It’s not often that a story like this comes along and reminds you of what is truly important in life.
Having worked in the child protection field inAustraliawith abused children and now working with women, some with childhood trauma I am well aware that stories like Bria’s are not uncommon. I have also read many memoirs where survivors have shared their experiences of trauma. But what I think Linda does so well in her fiction novel, This Bird Flew Away is to show the range of emotions and inner conflicts a young child’s experience after trauma in an objective but empathetic fashion. The range of perspectives and Bria’s interactions with those around her makes the people real- flaws and all.
I must warn you though; this story is not for those with a sensitive stomach. But if you can stick out the bad parts and stay alongside Bria as she transforms from a girl into a woman you will be pleasantly rewarded with this well told story.
Bria’s relationship with Jack did initially make me squirm at times (probably because of my own professional background- on face value their relationship just seems wrong). I felt protective of Bria. When will this man abuse her trust, like every other? But as the story evolved, despite my unease with their age difference I can see that Jack and Bria truly love each other. They know each other at a very deep and trusting level and I think well could any other man have looked after and kept her so emotionally contained over all those years? If a warm-hearted, gentle and caring man like Jack was not in her life- Bria’s life would have taken a much different course- most likely for the worse.
This Bird Flew Away identifies many psychosocial issues in our society. I think it’s an important reminder for people to think about where someone has come from, their early experiences before they judge who they are today. Young women are often judged by their behaviour; whether it be promiscuity or other risk taking behaviours – but there is a reason behind this behaviour- conscious or not. What this story shows nicely is how early experiences can shape the way we view the world.
This Bird Flew Away is a truly touching story of pain, survival and hope. Although, the ending was not exactly what I had hoped, I was thrilled to find a sneak preview for the sequel. I am looking forward to finding out what happens with Jack and Bria in the future. 5/5!
Reviewed by Iben Jakobsen, The Borough of Books, March 23, 2011
An amazing book - I couldn't put it down.
When the author, Lynda M. Martin contacted me and asked me to review her book, she warned me it wasn't quite what I usually read and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. It turned out I'd gotten myself into reading one of the best non-fantasy books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
It is extremely well written and the 3 main characters and point-of-views Bria, Jack and Mary are fantastically alive and real. Set in the real world it starts out in 1967, with Bria age 9, and follows her life up to 1986, where she's a grown woman and a survivor.
Bria's story of horrors is one of the most real things I have ever read and I felt with her every step of the way. It is no surprise how many victims of child trafficking, rape and abuse have taken this story to heart as it hits the nail right on the head - though without ever becoming unreadable, graphic-wise. It was very gripping to see how her life choices deep down evolves around her past and her desire to do better.
I loved everything about this book, and am very much looking forward to the next Bria Connelly novel, Fly High, Fly Blind.
Reviewed By: Brian Knight January 27, 2011
What do you do when innocence dies?
Bria is a typical little girl by all outward appearances but inside lurks dark secrets and problems only adults should have to face. She is smart but confused with the world around her. To top it off, she has no one to talk to about these problems. That is, until, Jack finds her in the basement of the family home during a funeral. Jack is Bria’s best friend and the one person she will talk to. Unbeknownst to them both, that friendship will be tested and strengthened, and eventually will save a life.
Bria doesn’t have a real home. After years of being shuffled between Aunts and across the border, the only family she can count on is her Aunt Mary and Jack. She takes it upon herself to protect her younger sister but, as fate would have it, she is forced into a difficult decision in her efforts to find them both a safe home. Her impossible situation turns into a nightmare as she is soon abducted and trafficked. The unspeakable acts she endures and witnesses leave her a shell of the girl she once was.
After a daring escape, Bria now faces the most difficult obstacle of all – finding her place in society again. Along her harrowing path, she confronts her inner enemies and discovers new life when it seemed her life was over. Can she truly recover? Will she learn what love really is? Will she allow herself to be more than the ‘nobody, nobody wants’?
From the first word, Lynda Martin’s passion for crafting a gripping story combined with her career of helping missing and exploited children takes center stage. Instantly, you are immersed in Bria’s journey as she struggles to navigate a cruel world. With each passing page, it is virtually impossible not to care for Bria and the others like her in “This Bird Flew Away.” You will find yourself wanting to hug, talk and listen to Bria as the connection is made on multiple levels.
“This Bird Flew Away” is a story of betrayal, abuse, hope, love and strength. The emotions experienced as the story unfolds carry it from page to page. Sadness, anger, grief, hopelessness, joy, love, hope and peace are all present and combine to deliver a surreal experience; one that will haunt and demand that you ponder the reality that the story depicts. This book is a must have for those seeking an emotionally charged story of survival.
Author Lynda Martin’s debut novel, is sure to take the world by storm. I see a bright future for this up and coming author.
Reviewed by Karen Banes (blogger) February 16, 2011
This Bird Flew Away is an extraordinary book. It takes incredibly dark subject matter (family violence, alcohol abuse, child trafficking), inflicts these things on realistic, fascinating, flawed but lovable characters, and yet somehow manages to leave the reader feeling upbeat and optimistic at the end of the story.
Every scene is so compelling and well-written that it's a real wrench to put it down. The subject matter is sometimes harrowing but it is an amazing story, beautifully told. It was one of those books that I was genuinely sad to finish. I'd become so attached to the characters I didn't want to leave them. Will be looking forward to the sequel.
Reviewed by Ronald Sowell (writer) February 18, 2011
I was fortunate to read bits and pieces of this novel before it was published by Black Rose Writing. I ordered my autographed copy the day it was published and fully expected a good read. What I got instead was a great read, an excellent novel that is well crafted, professionally presented and emotionally charged.
The trials, tribulations, horrors and joys of Bria Connelly are brilliantly chronicled in this first novel. The author shines a beacon of truth and reality on child-abuse, alcoholism, familial love, hurt and healing. Based on twenty-five years as a cop, I found the book to be the most real piece of fiction I have found.
This Bird Flew Away follows Bria's life from the age of nine in 1967 through tragic episodes and personal triumphs to the end of the book in 1986. Often it is a hard trip on a very bumpy road. The message here is optimistic, pragmatic perseverance and Bria Connelly is the poster child for the "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" crowd.
Don't get me wrong. This is not some woman's lib, man bashing, piece of chick lit. It is a realistic, thoughtful and entertaining narrative about men, women and children and how they behave toward one another in circumstances often beyond their control.
SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK?
Well, if you're a woman, yes. If your daughter, granddaughter, sister, wife, girlfriend, aunt, niece, cousin or next door neighbor is a woman, yes. If you know any women or ever hope to, yes. So, in my humble opinion, anyone other than Worf from Star Trek, The Next Generation will find it beneficial.
To use a barrel racing analogy, Lynda and Bria have rounded the first barrel (This Bird Flew Away) galloping flat out and are thundering toward the second (Fly High, Fly Blind)! You don't want to be left at the gate. Get your copy today.