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The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird

The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird

By Diane Connellpaperback4 May 2022
$24.99RRP $32.99
or 4 payments of $6.25 with Learn more
Booklovers earn $1.20 in rewards
If you were charmed by The Curious Incident, laughed with Eleanor Oliphant and cried over A Man Called Ove, you will love Ricky Bird.

‘No one loved making forts more than Ricky. A fort was a place of safety and possibility. It shut out the world and enclosed her and Ollie within any story she wanted to tell …’

Ricky Bird loves making up stories for her little brother Ollie almost as much as she loves him. The imaginary worlds she creates are wild and whimsical places full of unlimited possibilities.

Real life is another story. Ricky’s father has abandoned them and the family has moved to a bleak new neighbourhood. Worse still, her mother’s new boyfriend, Dan, has come with the furniture.

But Ricky Bird is a force to be reckoned with. As the mastermind of so many outlandish plots, imagination is her best weapon to restore her world to rights. As her father used to say, if you can spin a good yarn you can get on in life.

Ricky knows that better than anyone but despite her best efforts everything in her world starts to spiral out of control. Until a gypsy prediction that someone will come along – a he or a she who is like a gift – comes true.

But no one, not even Ricky, could imagine the consequences.

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird
  • Author: Diane Connell
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
  • ISBN: 9781761101366
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 04/05/2022
  • Pages: 368

RATINGS & REVIEW

20/04/2022 12:02:11 PM - Marianne
a thought-provoking, moving and ultimately uplifting read.
4.5★s The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird is the third novel by New Zealand-born Australian author, Diane Connell. Moving from Brixton to Camden, just as the summer holidays begin, is absolutely the last thing that twelve-year-old Ricky Bird wants, but she has no choice. Her mum is moving her and her little brother Ollie to King’s Crescent Estate to be near her boyfriend, sleazy Dan, which means Ricky and Ollie will be a long way from their dad. On their arrival, they meet a neighbour girl, Samia who seems shy but sweet. Their flat is a smelly tip, so Ricky takes Ollie to the tiny, ugly playground nearby while mum cleans up. They encounter a local tough girl whose fat old white Staffie instantly falls for Ollie, as all dogs do, but Caitlin Cloney isn’t won over. The only glimmer of hope in this depressing place is what seems to be a community garden in which an elderly man digs and weeds and plants. Ricky and Ollie loved gardening with their dad at the allotment: maybe they could help out here? Another positive is the Summer Creative Workshop at the Community Centre, where the facilitator, Katie encourages attendees to write stories, but also to keep their own personal book, to write candidly for themselves. Ricky’s talent for imaginative story-telling is lauded here. While Samia is there, quietly participating, Caitlin isn’t, but Caitlin’s snobby, pretty best friend, Abbie is: it seems Ricky will find herself in the company of these girls whether or not she wants to. In encounters with estate youths, including Caitlin’s older brother, Ricky clearly sees the danger; being in Dan’s company, she finds distasteful; with old Mr Snow in the garden she feels safe, it’s her refuge from the world: “The garden was the only place where she could drop the burden of her disintegrating life and connect with the bustle and hum of all that grew there” But is danger where she perceives it to be? Moving away from friends is already major, but Dad’s visits are few and far between, and then comes the unwelcome news that his girlfriend is expecting a daughter, a child Ricky is sure will replace her in dad’s attention and affections. When Ollie becomes genuinely unwell, their mother is thoroughly distracted by never-ending hospital visits, leaving Ricky in Dan’s care, something she escapes whenever possible. So Ricky isn’t always where her mother thinks: time spent at the Creative workshop is positive; that spent in Caitlin’s company further undermines her shaky self-esteem and poot body image. A chance encounter with a fortune teller predicts a good friend in her near future, who turns out to be Jack, a local boy with similar family problems of his own. And the less her mother is around, the more trouble Ricky seems to attract, even while trying to be good and kind and thoughtful. Connell’s depiction of her naïve young protagonist feels authentic and credible: a pre-teen facing several life challenges, needing support that is absent due to unfortunate circumstances. Ricky is disturbed about the changes puberty brings. It gradually becomes apparent that she is an unreliable narrator, engaging in wishful thinking around various aspects of her life. The stories Ricky creates for Ollie about his illness are clever but demonstrate her denial of a reality she doesn’t want to face. In this story of a fractured family, Connell explores complex themes, including gender issues, paedophilia, anorexia, vigilante action, mental illness and premature end of life: a thought-provoking, moving and ultimately uplifting read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia.
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