Read This Book

Read This Book: The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Welcome to Read This Book, a weekly newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

The Things She's Seen cover imageThis week’s pick is a powerful novel from Australia–The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina!

Content warning: assault, death, depictions of grief

Published as Catching Teller Crow in Australia, this is a YA novel about Aboriginal teen Beth Teller, who is a ghost. She died before the book begins in a car accident, and now she lingers on Earth, visible only to her grieving dad. Beth can’t stand to witness how he pushes away their beloved extended family, and so she encourages him to go back to work and take on a case. Her father is a police officer, and he reluctantly accepts a job overseeing the investigation of a fire in a small town that claimed the lives of two people–one the police has been able to identify, and one who remains a mystery. Beth is eager to be useful and is happy to see her father take interest in something again, but when they discover a young woman, Isobel Catching, who is able to see Beth, Beth learns that this case might have a profound effect on her own ability to move on.

For a book that’s under 200 pages, this novel packs a surprisingly powerful punch. It has so many intriguing and unsettling elements, and the small Australian town setting really comes alive as Beth and her father attempt to unravel its secrets. I loved that this book really showcases the relationship between Beth and her father, as they come to terms with this new reality and learn that even though Beth is dead, their relationship is still intact, just different. The book actually weaves back and forth from Beth and Isobel’s perspectives, and Isobel’s chapters are haunting and lyrical as they draw the reader–and Beth–closer and closer to the terrible truth about the crime. But it’s only in confronting the causes for the fire and the consequences it has on the community that Beth finds the key to moving to the next plane of existence–a transition as joyous as it is heartrending for those left behind.

This novel has some of the most beautiful and sensitive writing when it comes to describing the despicable things that some people do to one another, and even though it explores a terrible crime, it prioritizes and values the voices of those directly affected, ensuring that justice is served. I’m of the opinion that some of the best YA books come from the Australian market, and this book just further proves my theory!

Happy reading!

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