Title: The Art of Taxidermy
Author: Sharon Kernot
Edition: eARC from NetGalley
Blurb: Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands—Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does.
And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her.
The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.
Review: I think this is the first book of poetry I have ever reviewed on this blog. Yay for firsts! To be honest, when I first requested it, I didn’t realize it was poetry, which was a surprise when I started reading it. I haven’t really read poetry since college, and I must say, it was a truly beautiful experience.
The poems all connect to tell the story of Lotte, a young girl who has lost her mother. One of the ways she copes with it is by finding dead animals — birds, mice, mostly small things — and collecting them. She is fascinated by them. Her Aunt Hilde is worried about her doing this, finding it morbid and weird, and actually destroys Lotte’s collections on several occasions. I have to say, I really disliked Hilde, even though I know she was doing what she thought was right. Lotte had to find her own way to deal with her grief and this way was working. It was not a morbid fascination with death, but a reverence for the gift of life.
I did forgive Hilde when she gave Lotte a kitten. Kittens will help me forgive almost anyone.
Lotte also uses her love for animals and her amateur taxidermy skills to feel closer to her sister, Annie. We find out towards the end of the story that Annie has also died, though Lotte still feels her presence, especially when searching for her specimens. Lotte’s father is dealing with his own grief, but also eventually supports Lotte’s scientific mind and interest in animals.
This book was absolutely lovely. Heartbreaking in places, but ultimately hopeful. It’s a story about a family’s love for one another, shown in different ways, but very strong and real.
GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Loved it.