Review: “Lyredbird” by Cecelia Ahern

I love Cecelia Ahern, I think she’s a beautiful author who makes the normal extraordinary and reminds us to appreciate the everyday without preaching morality or life lessons. In short, I have yet to see her do wrong, and ‘Lyrebird’ keeps that record intact.

The tale of Laura Button, a girl who mimics like a lyrebird without thinking after 26 years of living in relative isolation, Ahern writes about an unknown talent that inadvertently shows people who they are, making them understand the bad to come through to the good.

There are bits, I admit, which made me have temporary (and then cured) doubts: I have never been a fan of writing in present tense for example – ironically, it makes me tense because it just feels a bit unnatural when telling a story. Likewise, the introduction of talent show StarrQuest after being surrounded by natural innocence and beauty felt a bit jarring, but it was one of those plot lines you had to give a chance to, because it all made sense as part of the journey of Laura as a lyrebird. She had to be found, spread her wings, fall and rise again, and without this it wouldn’t have been so captivating and heartwarming. So the niggles died with the final rise of the lyrebird, and rightfully so.

With worries put aside, it turned into a narrative where you felt Laura’s development as your own because of how skilfully Ahern wrote her innocent nature; without that genuineness of her innocence, it might have come across as cloying or sickly, but it was handled wonderfully to allow you to access the real nature of Laura’s transition to the actual world.

It was a shame to see Rachel tale off as her partner’s due date loomed as she had an interesting relationship with Laura, but Bo was included just enough to see her rise, fall and rise again alongside Laura to redeem herself and start anew. Solomon was interesting if a bit stereotypical in being the brooding male, but he contrasted to and opened up Laura well, allowing her to have something of a foil to develop against.

I enjoyed the hints of stories within the plot as well; Gaga and the mother’s tale of woe wasn’t overextended, the Toolin affair wasn’t dragged out, things were what they were and the future, the change was the focus; a refreshing change from overly-emotional focuses in other books.

In short, everyone should experience the lore of the lyrebird for themselves; oddly enough, it’s not just the characters who come out of this thinking about who they are and how they perceive the world, and that’s what makes Ahern truly magical.

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The Naughty and Nice List

I have been very neglectful of this site recently, and for good reasons – my latest project, Literacy Stars is taking off and I am incredibly proud of it, as well as being incredibly exhausted from all the time it’s taken!

Excuses aside, my recent reading hasn’t stopped in the background, so here’s the pre-Christmas naught and nice list from my reading trawls of late…

 

Nice: 

  1. ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill – a truly harrowing book, made all the more impressive by it being a product of the 1980s yet sounding like it’s straight from the Victorian era! It’s detailed but in the best possible way – you feel every moment and, for a story where (when you reflect on it and realise) very little happens, you feel like everything has changed througho
    51bmm0isz7l-_sx324_bo1204203200_

    The clear candidate for top of the list! 

    ut the course of this little novella.

  2. ‘Facing the Congo’ by Jeffrey Taylor – a fascinating insight into life on the Conga in former Zaire, exploring the lines between adventure and exploitation, daring and foolishness, and adding a little education along the way.
  3. ‘The Year I Met You’ by Cecelia Ahern – this only just makes it onto the nice list, but it’s a standard sweetheart of a book from Ahern, removing romantics in favour of life-changing relationships beyond the conventional. It’s that everyday magic and love Ahern specialises in, so worth a read.
  4. ‘The Taliban Cricket Club’ by Timeri Murari – this is the best of the bunch; fascinating, insightful, moving and wonderful, you don’t have to love cricket to love this haunting and beautiful story of being female in a repressive regime and the bravery required to free yourself – a bravery embodied by the glorious game itself.

Naughty: 

  1. ‘Early One Morning’ by Virginia Bailey – somewhat interesting in places but entirely predictable and overly-cliched for such a serious topic. A lot of potential that isn’t fully expanded on, which is a shame considering that Rome is a vantage point lost when considering the war in modern culture.
  2. 51rpuevkfl-_sx324_bo1204203200_‘Gorky Park’ by Martin Cruz Smith – I started off loving this dark Russian detective book, but its desperation to be the first in a series let it down, meaning the story finished in a fallen hurdle rather than a rising leap, and the pathos drooped woefully.
  3. ‘The Russian Debutante’s Handbook’ by Gary Shteyngart – what can I say? Our leading man Vladimir is a feckless pig who oscillates between naive and dangerously arrogant so frequently the book needs to be solved with nausea medication and a flow chart of events. Quirky but too much so for this reader.

Review: ‘The Book of Tomorrow’ – Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern has not disappointed me yet, and ‘The Book of Tomorrow’ is just another success to add to her extensive list.

Known best for ‘PS – I Love You’ (while we’re on that, the film is hideous compared to the book), Ahern has this uncanny ability to make you wonder at your own life by making everyday incidents – like keeping a diary – into magical events that serve to complete the story and make you question your own life. ‘The Gift’ made me want to cry, because while it certainly wasn’t happily ever after, Lou’s series of epiphanies had supernatural origins that were incredibly relevant to non-literary life.

‘The Book of Tomorrow’ begins with Tamara as the sixteen-year-old spoiled princess who finds her financially-struggling father dead on the floor next to a bottle of whisky and an empty pill bottle. With the devastation at the beginning, the novel follows the ‘PS – I Love You’ route by showing the protagonist’s journey in coping with their loss and moving on to a better and more fulfilled life as a result. Using a younger protagonist, however, allowed Ahern to sufficiently change the tone of the novel to combine grief with an insane amount of hormones swimming around Tamara’s foul-mouthed brain. Some of the obscenities Tamara came out with were cringe-worthy, but instead of causing you to abandon belief in the character, it strengthened it, as despite her obvious moral growth, Tamara still retains some of her bratty need to be extremely blunt. It would have thoroughly disappointed me if Tamara’s first reaction to Laurie had been a full acceptance of his appearance after the fire: her tears and fears both justified Wesley’s actions and maintained the character we’d been told existed before the beginning of the novel.

Rosaleen’s reveal as the big bad wolf, however, didn’t gel properly. Personally, I saw her as too bolshy with Tamara, and while I completely understand she was mentally unhinged and desperately trying to protect the fictitious life she’d created for herself, I thought she would have gone down the hysterical route as opposed to becoming more firm and angrily aggressive in her passion. Angrily aggressive, very dead, good win.

The use of the diary was sparing enough to stop the magic from becoming overused and tiring, leaving the reader craving more as opposed to being sick of having events narrated and re-narrated incessantly. I think the tantalising glimpses at the future showed its fragility and unpredictability despite the potential for life to follow a certain path.

Overall, I think Cecelia Ahern has outdone herself once more, by creating an imperfect world where the characters discoveries enable the reader to see that the here and now can be irrelevant in the face of tomorrow.