My Brother, Finch by Kate Gordon

My Brother, Finch by Kate Gordon

Kate Gordon is one of those authors who makes you feel things, all sorts of things. She notices the big and the small moments in life and she draws all of your senses into the worlds she builds for her characters. Kate is not afraid to confront pain and darkness, and yet, she does so in a gentle, considered manner. In My Brother, Finch, Kate brings us the story of a missing boy, and a missing girl, told through the eyes of Wren, the 12-year-old sister of the missing boy, Finch.

Finch and Wren were as close as a brother and sister can be. When he vanished, when they were nine years old, her world cracked in two. Finch was never found. On the same day that Finch disappeared, another girl was lost, too. Her name was Ava. Her parents were rich tourists, from Sydney. Ava’s story got all the media attention. And Finch was forgotten. But not by Wren. Never by Wren. Three years on, Finch is still with her, whispering in her ear, guiding her through life. As Wren begins high school and forms a new, bewildering friendship with a mysterious girl called Freddie, Finch is there, urging her on. To go bolder. To go braver. To grab life with two hands. When another girl goes missing – a strange girl called Johanna – Wren feels compelled to search for her. To her surprise, Freddie does, too. The two of them try and piece together who Johanna is and why she ran away. Or did she run away? Was the truth more awful? And was it all tied together with what happened to Finch and Ava? My Brother, Finch, is a story of family, of loss, of friendship and of grief, and of what it truly means to let go and move on.

Finch and Wren are not quite a year apart and ‘closer than twins.’ Three years after Finch and another girl called Ava disappeared at the defunct coal mines near their Tasmanian town, Wren and her parents are stuck. They desperately want to believe that Finch is alive out there somewhere, but they all know he probably isn’t, despite not communicating this to each other. Wren sees and hears her brother talking to her all the time and in fact holds conversations with him. She often wonders if she is going mad. Is mad. Her dad is depressed and spends many hours crying. Her mum keeps busy, active, trying to do something about finding Finch, like the rich family of Ava, who still garner media and police attention. But not for Finch. Wren feels that everyone else has forgotten about Finch, or given up on finding him. But not Wren.

To make matters worse, due to the pain and grief surrounding Wren like a black cloud, her friendships have broken down. The Girls, including her best friend Maya, have drifted away from her too, and other than her conversations with Finch, she is alone. Until she meets a new girl called Freddie. Freddie is outlandish and cool and confident. Freddie makes Wren feel things she hasn’t felt for a long time – warmth and belonging and maybe even hope.

When Wren and Freddie see a mysterious, pale girl, who seems to arrive and disappear, she makes them both feel something important, that they have to find out what has happened to her, they have to save her. Together, they begin to investigate who she is and what has happened to her. As they discover clues and dead ends, they also discover more about each other and themselves.

My Brother, Finch is an allegory to grief and loss and the osscillation between hope and hopelessness that people must feel when a loved one goes missing. How can you grieve when you never really know what happened? And how can you move on with your life, how can you let them go, when there’s a chance, however small, that they are still out there somewhere?

Written in a combination of prose and verse, with Kate’s signature rhythm and rhyme, My Brother, Finch takes you on a journey with Wren as she grapples with how to make sense of the enormous crack in her family and in her life. Beautifully paced, with room to breathe and take pause, you are ultimately left with the sense that this family, and Wren in particular, will be all right. It is a moment in time book, where you are held in the middle of this great loss for Wren – you weren’t there when Finch went missing, and you will not be there when she reaches the end. And how can you be, for grief never really ends. It changes and shifts, ebbs and flows. There are layers beneath the surface in this story that speak to family relationships, sibling rivalry, friendship, mental health, power and status, the media, and outsiders.

Recommended for ages 11+ this book is a great stepping off point for discussions about grief, loss, mental health and relationships. It also offers reflection on how we see ourselves, the idea of ‘madness’ and what this really means – is it mad to hold discussions with someone who is gone? Or is it actually a way of holding on, of making sure you don’t forget them? My Brother, Finch brings in themes around sibling relationships and the way we see ourselves in our families, which will be relevant to young people at a time in their lives when they are forming and changing their view of themselves and the world around them. It is a special book with powerful messages and stunning use of language that will stay with you as you get on with your life.

Highly recommended and available at all good bookshops and for pre-order via Riveted Press here.


Leave a Comment