A bush fire, and its aftermath, links a Bush-Stone curlew and three teenagers experiencing loss, love and change.
The fire was fast and hot ... only days after it went through, there were absolutely no birds left. I should have seen it as an omen, the birds all leaving like that.
Robin is a self-confessed bird-nerd from the country, living in the city. On the first day at her new school, she meets Delia. Delia is freaky and definitely not good for Robin's image.
Seth, Delia's brother, has given up school to prowl the city streets. He is angry at everything, especially the fire that killed his mother.
When a rare and endangered bird turns up in the city parklands, the lives of Robin, Seth and Delia become fatefully and dangerously intertwined ...
Their lives certainly are intertwined. Seth and Delia are the children of the biologist who was killed observing a rare Bush-Stone Curlew. Robin was living in the area at the time and saw the bushfire. Her parents separated soon after for reasons we find out later.
And Robin has a strange connection with Seth, who can see things through her eyes as well as the bird's.
Fire plays an important role in this novel - the bushfire that killed Seth and Delia's mother and brought the bird to the city, the fire with which Seth deliberately burns his hand in horrified fascination while grieving, Robin's nickname, Flame. Even the book's title, As Stars Fall, refers to sparks falling during the fire, which Robin saw on the night and thought beautiful despite the significance of them. The environment is also a major element and some of it is notes by Selena, the biologist mother, who had strong opinions about the cycle of life in the bush.
It's a sad but positive story, an interesting mixture of mainstream YA and fantasy. The story is about coming to terms with grief, but it wouldn't have been quite the same without those touches of fantasy.
I can see this one working well in classroom discussion, perhaps as a literature circles text; there's a lot of meat for discussion. It's aimed at older readers and really is best for good readers who like to think deeply about what they read.