Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina Review
Hello Lit Clubbers,
As you know, this month’s book for our Lit Club discussion is Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. As a discussion leader, I have been lucky enough to receive a copy to review and discuss.
Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died.
Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief.But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching and what is her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another.
Catching Teller Crow is written in the alternating perspectives of two young Aboriginal women. Catching’s voice is written in verse whereas Beth’s was written in prose, which I loved. I enjoyed reading Beth’s voice as things played out in the present. I think that writing Beth’s perspective in prose gave readers an idea as to how in touch with reality she is, even in the afterlife. I also appreciated Beth ‘living in the moment’ so that the mystery unfolded for her at the same time it did for us as readers. Conversely, Catching’s voice in verse suggested that she was disjointed from reality and I think that it somewhat sugar-coated her trauma from her abusive past. I also think that Catching’s almost mythical perspective on her own past reflected how deeply affected she was and made readers more receptive to her story than if it were a realistic, detailed account of her suffering.
I think that this novel excellently depicted grief in the form of Beth’s father and the notion of ‘moving on’, be it from one life to another or from the past and learning to live in the now. I greatly appreciated the plot element of Beth’s hesitance and apprehension towards moving on and encouraging her father to move on from her own death. I loved the character development in both Beth and her father as they learned to cope with tragedy and find hope after experiencing loss.
I was slightly disappointed in the length of the novel as I think the plot would be better resolved given a few more pages. To me, the ending felt a bit rushed and in an effort to summarise Telling’s story, the mystery felt unresolved and became more of a subplot than I would have liked.
I loved the many demonstrations of family in this novel and I think it added so much to the plot. I loved Beth’s relationship with her father and her mentions of her distant yet very close relatives. I loved how the book showed that grief could bring people together when we learnt of Beth’s mother and her death, and how her mother’s family cared for Beth and her father following the incident. I also loved how in an effort to stay closer to reality, Catching would repeat the names of her loved ones and the strong women of her family’s history.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and the themes it presents. I think it was a great choice for Lit Club and has the potential for a wonderful discussion.
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