The Lorikeet Tree by Paul Jennings

The Lorikeet Tree9781761180095
Author: Paul Jennings
Published: January 31, 2023
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $19.99

I received a copy of The Lorikeet Tree from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

From the master storyteller of the bestselling Parvana books comes a timely new novel set in contemporary Afghanistan, featuring Parvana and Shauzia continuing their mission to protect women and girls from their dire reality under the rules re-imposed by the Taliban.

In Kabul, 15-year-old Damsa runs away to avoid being forced into marriage by her family. She is helped by Shauzia who takes her to her friend Parvana’s Green Valley school.

It has been twenty years since Parvana and Shauzia had to disguise themselves as boys to support their families. And when the Taliban were defeated in 2001, they began to rebuild their lives. But everything changed in 2021 when the Taliban rose to power again and the restrictions they imposed had a devastating impact on women and girls and their hard-won freedoms.

With little warning, Kabul airport is shut down and danger is everywhere. And when the Taliban comes to Green Valley, Parvana and Shauzia’s community face new dangers from an old enemy as Afghanistan is once again under siege.

A hauntingly compelling story of courage, heartbreak and resilience.

I’ve been reading Paul Jennings books since I was in primary school and as an adult reading a lot of his contemporary works I’m always impressed with the way he is able to tackle deep, hard-hitting topics in a thoughtful and measured approach that is easily accessible by his readers. The Lorikeet Tree is no exception.

The reading notes for the book suggest that it’s appropriate for younger YA audiences, which I agree with, although older middle grade readers may also enjoy it. It’s a novel that deals with the difficult subject of watching a parent succumb to the effects of a terminal brain tumour. Emily, and her twin brother Alex, are 15 years older and their only parent has just been diagonsed and the outcome is not great. They live on a property where they’re painstakingly trying to restore the local vegetation and encourage native animals back. Emily is dedicated to her father’s dream, and his diagnosis highlights the way that people (especially young people) can react in different ways to fear.

The entire story is written as a memoir from Emily’s perspective, complete with notes from her teachers grading her work, and highlights the ups and downs, the grief and the familial relationships of all the characters. It’s almost slice of life in the way it’s told – the language is simple and beautiful and while it’s hard to read at times, there’s also moments of hope.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A sister and brother face the hardest year of their lives and discover the healing power of nature in this compelling tale from master storyteller Paul Jennings.

Emily loves the bush and the native animals on her family’s reforested property, particularly the beautiful rainbow lorikeets that nest in one of the tallest trees. But then her father is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and Emily’s world enters a tailspin.

Her twin brother, Alex, refuses to accept the truth. His coping mechanism is to build elaborate additions to his treehouse in the superstitious belief that it will avert disaster – leaving Emily to deal with harsh reality on her own.

When Alex secretly adopts a feral kitten, going against everything that’s important to Emily, the siblings’ emotions reach boiling point – with potentially dangerous consequences for them all.

A moving story of family, loss and love, from one of Australia’s most beloved storytellers.

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