15-year-old Ana Ross is living a second life. Her first was as Emma Trees, who died in 1994 at the age of 22.She believes she has returned because she killed a six-year-old girl when she herself was only nine years old and now wants to learn the truth about what really happened on the fateful night when Catherine drowned. This is a startling premise and the narrative does it ample justice. Plotting is imaginative, yet not improbable and the family dysfunctions revealed in the course of the tightly-wound narrative are both tense and familiar.
Bird’s greatest achievement is to place herself firmly and unshakeably inside the mind of a teenage girl in an emotionally impossible situation without resorting to histrionics or shallowness. Close behind this success comes her handling of the situation where Ana meets her beloved former parents and all realise that a new beginning in their relationship cannot be achieved. The addition of a blossoming first love between Ana and her friend Jamie is handled with the same combination of sensitivity and heightened emotion – Bird keeps a formidable number of literary plates spinning!
This is a rich, dense read which skilfully employs dramatic tension to absorb the reader wholly into a constantly shifting world of revelation and self-delusion.