Joanna Nadin, Where Do You Go, Birdy Jones?

Little Brown, 2018, ISBN 978-1-5102-0126-2

Birdy Jones has just moved up to secondary school, and her homework is to write about herself. Who is she, she asks herself, but can't come up with an answer. When she lived with just Dad after her mother's death life was easier, but everything changed when Sadie came on the scene. Birdy's relationship with her veers between bad and non-existent. She and Dad hardly seem to speak any more. Her little sister is alright, but Birdy no longer feels she belongs. Her one refuge is her grandfather's pigeon loft. There she can feel at peace. She loves caring for the birds after school each day, and her help is needed more and more now that Grandpa's health isn't too good. And she can see Dogger there, her one and only friend. He is home-schooled, and his mother struggles with mental health issues. His friendship means a huge amount to Birdy, though Dad doesn't approve. There's a new baby on the way and the family will have to move to a house with more space. Birdy's daily visits to her grandfather won't be possible, as they will be on the other side of town. The prospect is intolerable. By chance she finds something that makes her question her family history. Manjit, a classmate who is rapidly becoming a friend, and who is starting to love her Grandpa's pigeons as much as she does, digs around on the internet. Before long Birdy embarks on a trip to find her real family and a real home. Nothing turns out as she expects. And where is Dogger when she needs him?

Where Do You Go, Birdy Jones? is a moving and very enjoyable novel that explores identity, family, love and friendship very subtly. Joanna Nadin (author of Joe All Alone) has created a great protagonist in Birdy. All the characters are very believable. Children will find themselves deeply immersed in the intriguing storyline. Recommended.