I got an eARC of this book from NetGalley, but it came out a year or so ago so I think it’s just an ebook in exchange for an honest review.
A quick description of the story: Lottie collects and cares for dead animals, hoping to preserve them and save them from decaying. Her father understands her scientific mind. Her aunt wants it to stop and for her to behave more like a ‘girl’. Her mother died long ago, and she’s finding ways to be closer to her.
A warning: as the plot focuses on Lottie’s fascination with dead animals, there are some detailed descriptions of the bodies decaying and how they get taken apart and put back together for taxidermy. It’s not too intense, but this might not be a book for you if you’re easily squeamish.
The novel is written in verse
and explores love, death, grief, beauty, and the ways that people try to make sense of it all. It’s written in free verse, and it’s b e a u t i f u l. It was a slow start and took me some time to get into as it’s not a style I’m used to reading and the eBook formatting was strange, but each section is quite short and it’s broken up by illustrations like those on the cover. I do think it lacked the depth and description of an ‘actual’ novel, but I was still happy with this way of telling the story.
There’s a discussion about indigenous people and a side character – Lottie’s friend – is an Aboriginal boy. It took me a while to notice that this book was set in Australia, and I’ve never read a book featuring an Aboriginal character, so this was something I appreciated as a reader and as someone who wants to learn more.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that Lottie’s family are Germans who emigrated to Australia during World War II, and there is a lot of interesting discussion about the family history.
My one issue?
It was boring. So little happens that when something does happen it feels repetitive or forced. The book discusses a lot of sad and emotional topics, but I found it difficult to connect to them. I think this might be because Lottie seems entirely disinterested in anything that doesn’t involve taxidermy or dead animals, so it was hard to get to know her as a character and find out why I should care about her and her story.
In summary, I liked this book. The middle sections were slow and there were a few sections I wasn’t interested in as an individual, but I appreciate how this book discusses the complexity of grief.
Rating: 3.5 stars