Monday 20 February 2023

The Lorikeet Tree

The Lorikeet Tree by Paul Jennings (Allen & Unwin) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781761180095

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Emily lives with her father and her twin brother, Alex, on a rural property in south western Victoria. The reforested land is now covered in native bush providing a sanctuary for a myriad of wildlife. One giant manna gum tree, which avoided clearing decades earlier, is now home to a flock of lorikeets and Alex’s beloved tree cottage, his place of refuge.

Devastating news of their father’s terminal illness brings emotional chaos as the twins try to process the diagnosis and comprehend life without both of their parents. Amid the heartache and the confusion, Emily tries to hold the family together as Alex withdraws emotionally and physically, spending much of his time in the lorikeet tree. Emily and Alex’s differing personalities, opinions, and coping strategies add to the unease within the house and form a rift in the twin’s relationship.

The Lorikeet Tree is an emotionally moving novel suitable for a lower secondary school audience. It is written in the first person by fifteen year old Emily, as a personal memoir for a school assignment. Its themes include family, siblings, love, terminal illness, superstitions, wildlife, and the environment.

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