Hush, Little Bird by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin RRP: $29.99 AUD
Psychological thriller meets family drama in Nicole Trope’s new novel Hush, Little Bird. A skilled writer of sensitive takes on horrifying subjects, Trope likes to splash around in the murkier waters of the human experience. Best known for the acclaimed The Boy Under The Table, her publisher calls her the ‘queen of domestic suspense’ and she’s often referred to as Australia’s answer to Jodi Picoult.
Hush, Little Bird tackles secrets and lies around child sexual abuse, exploring mental health issues and the thorny concept of ‘justice’. It’s a disturbing read, of course, but also an important one in this age of revelations about institutionalised abuse. It highlights the importance of allowing children to have a voice; something that we are beginning to understand as a society now that the ghosts of the ‘seen but not heard’ years walk amongst us.
In this case, the ‘institution’ is not a church or school, but the hallowed quarters of a popular TV show and its charismatic star, Simon. The story is told from the perspectives of two survivors of his actions as they cross paths in a low security prison.
Rose, Simon’s faithful wife, supported him unquestioningly as his career began to crumble under the weight of sinister accusations. She gave him the benefit of the doubt right up until the end…when she found the crucial evidence…and the gun went off.
Birdy was a naïve little girl from a troubled family when she first met Simon. She’s imprisoned as an adult for lashing out at those she holds responsible for her broken childhood. She’s due for release as soon as her psychologist gives the OK; Birdy might be ‘a bit slow’ but she knows how to say all the right things while she plots her ultimate revenge.
Hush Little Bird explores some of the factors at play in many cases of child abuse: a man given too much power; a depressed mother consumed by her own troubles, not listening when her child says she doesn’t want to visit him; a devoted wife left to question why she never knew his secret. In addition to the core plot around the horrors of abuse, this is a book about communication between parents and children and why those precious little birds need to be seen AND heard.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my review copy.