Mini Reviews: For the Forest of A Bird & The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex

April 15, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Mini Reviews: For the Forest of A Bird & The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His ExThe Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams
on April 1, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher
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A rock chick.

An artist with attitude.

A girl with a past.

A party animal.

Four lives collide when one of the world's most famous paintings is stolen. It's a mystery that has the nation talking, but while Picasso's Weeping Woman might be absent from the walls of the National Gallery, in other parts of Melbourne the controversial painting's presence is being felt by Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny for four very different reasons.

Life, love, art and one giant party intersect in this offbeat comedy about good intentions, unexpected consequences and the irresistible force of true love.

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex is a new Australian title meshing different age groups, with two teenagers and two characters in their early 20’s. Mixing a light heist story with some major character development, it presented an interesting perspective of life from majorly flawed characters.

This book takes a while to warm up. After meeting all of the characters, I wondered whether to continue on, seeing as I didn’t know where the story was going to go. What I found within it’s pages, was a light heist story where all four characters will learn some crucial life lessons about what’s important. Each character is terribly flawed, which made them hard to connect with at the start.

A Bastard Ex – a truly great Bastard Ex – managed to act like an arsehole at the same time as making you desperate for his approval. He made you hate him and adore him (with the scales tipping more towards adoration). He scored zero on the list of reasons to stay together, but topped the list of guys you most wanted to be with anyway.

The Guy has forged his results on his report card and seemingly has no direction in life. The Girl has a broken family, having lost her brother. I did like Rafi’s perspective with her Spanish descent though, which made things more diverse. A Spanish legend was covered which presented a large part of the book. I wasn’t a fan of The Artist Luke though, who is a lying cheater who has knocked up his ex girlfriend and treats her like rubbish. He forges famous paintings for a living and is only focused on his latest heist, instead of his baby.

The last character, Penny really pissed me off. Even though Luke cheats on her and treats her terribly, she uses their baby as an excuse to constantly go back to him. I was really disappointed to see that she never learnt her lesson, and her feelings that his behaviour was justified. I was disgusted by how she presented herself as a doormat to his bad behaviour, because somehow she tells herself that he still cares. It’s even sadder because I know this happens in real life, and I wasn’t happy seeing it consistently happen throughout the book, with no major life lesson as a result. Every woman deserves a man who will treat her right, but if you willingly go back and make excuses for the man, then you’ve only got yourself to blame.

In a perverse way, the more badly he had treated her, the more important she had felt. She had thought she was showing him how much she loved him by taking his shit. 


I found The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex difficult to get into, but ended up being swept away with its diversity and flawed characters. Unfortunately I couldn’t warm to a lot of the characters, aside from Rafi, although I did end up liking the brief romance towards the end. An interesting perspective, but the characters weren’t for me.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

For the Forest of A BirdFor the Forest of a Bird by Sue Saliba
Published by Penguin Australia on January 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher

A novel about love and the things you can and can’t change, from the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for young adult fiction, Sue Saliba.

‘I want to tell you that he’s coming home. . . and it’s going to be like it was before he went away, before everything broke apart.’

Nella waits for the swallows by the creek each spring. It’s a secret vigil she’s followed ever since her father left.

This year she’s going to take him with her . . . but can we ever return to the way things were?

For the Forest of a Bird is a poetic, beautiful novel about a girl who is struggling to cope with abandonment. Her father has left. Her mother has become mentally ill. And her older brother distances himself from her.

She had wished for it before, this exile, but never with such force, such heated desire: to go, to end, to stop being.

As Noella struggles with the loss of her father, she plots out a plan to bring him home to a place where she finds some quiet refuge since he left. The creek where the swallows always return. It’s described beautifully and vividly, in an incredibly enchanting manner with Sue Saliba’s writing.

I read this novel in one sitting, and it captures Noella’s emotion and pain as she learns why her father left. Why shouldn’t a young child be the most important thing to her father? Through her subtle emotional journey, she’ll slowly come to terms with everything and realise not all is forgiven.

A love for her father and a love even for herself. She would tell her father how she felt.


While I enjoyed For the Forest of a Bird, it alludes to a deeper meaning that may be lost on some. Due to Noella’s youth, her thoughts and emotions aren’t necessarily clear at times, as she combines wishful thinking with what she struggles to understand. It’s an enchanting, quick read, that also borders on being a bit too vague and subtle at times. It’s a soft, elegant novel rather than one that will make a huge emotional impact.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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18 responses to “Mini Reviews: For the Forest of A Bird & The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex

  1. rlsharpe

    I'm interested in The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex. (That is such a long title!) i really enjoyed the last Gabrielle Williams book I read so I want to give it ago.
    I just won For The Forest of a Bird and can't wait to read it. I'm glad it's short. I need some short reads, everything I read is always so long. It's nice to read a shorter book for a change.
    My recent post Review: Nightbird By Alice Hoffman.

  2. I feel like characters are the thing that most influence whether I enjoy a contemporary novel (because there's not really any interesting magic system/world building to fall back on), and The Girl, the Guy, the Artist and his Ex doesn't sound like it has the best characters…might give that one a miss. To be honest, For the Forest of A Bird doesn't sound like the type of book I'd enjoy either!
    My recent post Half Wild: Further Drowing in Further Seas of Feels

  3. thebigfatf

    I'm surprised that you didn't absolutely love these books. I loved The Guy, the Girl……., For the Forest of a Bird was a very deep read. They're both quite short so I totally understand why you combined their reviews.

  4. Zoe

    Yeah…I don’t think The Guy, the Girl, The Artist and His Ex would be for me either Jeann. 😐 I love the idea of having 4 flawed individuals and having them all learn a valuable life lesson (I mean, who among us isn’t flawed?), but it sounds like their flaws were a little…extreme from what you’ve said here.

    I do really like the sound of For the Forest of a Bird though. It sounds really simplistic, yet powerful and elegant at the same time. It almost reminds me of Bird by Crystal Chan or something of the like.

    Nonetheless, thank you for sharing these reviews Jeann! Beautifully written, as always! ♥
    My recent post We All Looked Up

  5. Lily

    Hmm i'm not to sure where I stand with these two. I don't think The Girl The Guy and the Ex is for me but i'm conflicted about The Forest of the Bird. I'm interested in the premise but I don't know about the execution. I'm going to have to sleep on it. Either way, great reviews Jeann!
    My recent post Why I Won’t Stop Taking Pictures of My ARCS

  6. I actually love the premise of For the Forest of a Bird, it sounds beautifully lyrical and an emotional read, reminding me a little a little of Apple and Rain. The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and the Ex, I tried to start it, but like you, I just couldn't get into it. The premise doesn't really call to me either, so have put it aside until I have my TBR pile under control. I just found that I couldn't relate to any of the characters and didn't find them all that likable either. I'm glad you were able to get through it and enjoy it somewhat in the end. Lovely reviews Jeann <3
    My recent post Mini Review: Havoc by Jane Higgins

  7. Romi

    I had been interested in reading a review for The Guy, The Girl, and I’m sorry to read it was so disappointing. I’m fairly sure I’d feel as unhappy with Penny and Luke as you did, especially if she never learnt to just leave him. It’s upsetting that, even in fiction, we don’t always see the people around us understand how destructive their relationships can be. But I suppose… well maybe that happened here because it happens in real life, too? I don’t know, but it would have frustrated me, too, for sure.
    Sorry it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, Jeann! Have a nice next read! Xx

    My recent post A Feature of Pictures (and books!) No. 10.

  8. Book Blather

    I'm sorry you didn't really enjoy The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex sweetie, because it sounded interesting! xx

  9. I'm kind of interested in For The Forest of the Bird just because…it sounds unique and pretty and, sort of, ethereal, maybe?! I WOULD LIKE TO TRY IT. The Girl The Guy and the Ex, though? Eh. Maybe not. I mean I love heists, but I struggle with books that don't seem like they have a point. >_< And I'd prefer a hardcore heist anyway. hehe.
    My recent post My Humble (also hipster) Reviewer Origin Story

    • For the Forest of a Bird was definitely an ethereal read, really lovely. I think you\’d like it Cait! How do you nail books in your comments? It didn\’t seem like it had a point to me.