Billy Bird – Emma Neale


A boy who believes he is a bird is at the centre of an emotionally challenged family.

◉  “Liam and Iris have a son called Billy, who is as clever and interactive as any other child of his age. However due to a tragedy in the family, Billy turns into a bird. He believes this completely. As his behaviour becomes increasingly worrying, his parents must  find a way to stop their family flying apart.”

◉ “Billy Bird was a real grind for me. The day-to-day realities of sick pets, mental health issues, emotional pain, grief processing, money troubles etc were all too much. Obviously we don’t expect fiction to always be uplifting (I’d only read self-help books if that was the case) but a bit of escapism is always nice. It just felt like someone I didn’t particularly like oversharing too much of their life with me. Perhaps I’m a cold-hearted monster but Billy Bird wasn’t for me.” – Suzy

◉ “I was expecting great things from this book, shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards and up against literary greats. But I was quickly disappointed. The prose felt full of cliches, and devices were often used like a cheat’s means to an end, making it feel quite flat. New Zealand references are scattered about like confetti, but this does not make it a New Zealand book. There was great potential for the story of a boy who became a bird to deal with his grief, but instead the characters were two-dimensional and the final pages dragged out. Not one for me.” – Rachel

Published 2016
Penguin Random House
330 pages

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