Author: Nicole Trope
Nicole Trope is not afraid to tackle the difficult subjects and in Hush, Little Bird, her fourth novel, she tells a powerful and confronting tale that is going to be difficult for some people to read.
The story is told in alternating chapters by two main characters, Birdy and Rose, both inmates in a minimum security prison farm. Rose is a lady in her mid-fifties who is very different to the other women on the farm. She was well off and went straight to the farm where the other women were transitioning back to society at the end of their sentences. Rose was the wife of a celebrity and hers was a very high profile case, everyone at the farm knew who she was and why she was there.
Birdy is special, lots of things have been said to describe her but we are never made completely aware – possibly because all we learn about Birdy we learn from her. She is a little slow and needs to have things repeated over and over before she begins to remember them. She is in the prison farm for assault and is only a few months from release.
Hush, Little Bird deals with the extremely confronting issue of molestation and the far reaching effects it has. My heart was breaking throughout the entire book, not just for Birdy but for everyone whose life was irreparably damaged by the actions of one man.
I have to admit that I found myself thinking a lot about the relatively recent case of a popular Australian TV show suffering similar allegations.
Birdy is a model prisoner trying to get home to her daughter, she has learned to say what the therapists want to hear even if it masks a very different feeling deep in the pit of her stomach. She spends a lot of her time remembering all of the things that led her to this point in time and this is how we learn about who she really is and what has happened to her.
Rose too drifts off into her memories as she goes about her daily chores, telling the story of her life and how she has ended up in prison. She has found herself in a very difficult position and even after what she had thought unthinkable eventuates and she is sentenced to prison she can’t put her own self-preservation first.
Hush, Little Bird is a story that is far from comfortable to read and some may not be able to get through but I think it is a story that needs to be told, a story that gives a voice to the many children who have never been heard or never been able to speak up.
Trope takes this very serious and under reported issue and explores it from every angle, looking at how it affects everyone involved and how many people become victims because it isn’t just the victim who becomes the victim of this situation.
The characters are realistically written and I couldn’t help but be drawn to them.
Birdy hasn’t had it easy, she knows she’s not as bright as some but she’s determined. She wants to learn and is so proud of the things she has learned to accomplish. She has had a lot to deal with and has always understood more than those around her gave her credit for, though it didn’t stop her being taken advantage of and becoming a mother. She is determined to always do the best for her daughter and make sure she will always be heard.
Rose married very young and was transplanted into a completely new world, away from any support she had previously had, and relied totally on her husband for everything. She did work in the early days of their marriage but once he started to make a name for himself she didn’t need to work.
Once again Trope has written a book that is confronting, compelling and will haunt you long after the last page. She gives a voice to those who are often not heard, whose pain goes unseen and those who are most vulnerable.
A tale that is testament to the strength of survivors, those who may have started as victims but who turned themselves into survivors. If you haven’t read Nicole Trope yet then I would suggest you start.
Hush, Little Bird is book #40 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.