A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg – Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Rob has a huge crush on the new girl at school. But Rob is painfully shy and suffers severe panic attacks. How is her heart to be won? Another wonderful and heart-warming comedy drama from the award-winning author of My Life as an Alphabet.

Good evening, Rob. Your first challenge follows.

These challenges have nothing to do with impressing Destry Camberwick. They are all to do with Rob Fitzgerald impressing Rob Fitzgerald. Bear that in mind at all times.

Challenge 1. You will enter the Milltown’s Got Talent competition. This gives you over a fortnight to polish your act and work out strategies to overcome panic attacks. I would wish you luck but the point of this challenge is that you don’t need it.

Introducing Rob Fitzgerald: thirteen years old and determined to impress the new girl at school, but it’s a difficult task for a super-shy kid who is prone to panic attacks that include vomiting, difficulty breathing and genuine terror that can last all day. An anonymous texter is sending Rob challenges and they might just help. Or not.

Beautifully moving and full of heart and humour, A Song Only I Can Hear is a delightful novel about dreaming big, being brave and marching to the beat of your own drum.


Title: A Song Only I Can Hear

Authors: Barry Jonsberg 

 Genre: young adult, contemporary

 Release Date: July 2018

 Publisher: Allen and Unwin

 Link to buy book here.



My Review

A beautifully written and charming coming-of-age story about thirteen-year-old Rob Fitzgerald as he suffers from severe panic attacks, is painfully shy, and madly in love with a girl called Destry Camberwick. Even though it’s YA, there’s no swearing, except for the insert of the word ‘blankety’ when someone is meant to say ‘fuck’. But by doing this, the author has brought humour to the story, and developed Rob’s Pop with a funny character trait.

I love how Rob writes descriptive notes for each family member and his friends and enemies who he encounters throughout the story. But it’s also a great hint for the reader to ask, why is he doing this, and what is the function of this literary device?

Rob goes through so many obstacles until the end of the story there is an ultimate twist that I didn’t see coming at the Milltown’s Got Talent event!

Great uses of intertextuality with Macbeth by Shakespeare and the compassionate use and empathetic quality of Wilfred Owens’ poem Dulce et Decorum Est.

I thought this was going to be an ordinary young adult novel about a thirteen year old at the start of high school eg boy likes girl, boy tries to get girl, boy realises girl doesn’t want him, but he learns about his true self-identity along the way. The story is focused on this story arc, but it offers so much more with the last five chapters. A must read for this year!

My favourite quote from the book:

“I had my earbuds in, my phone tucked into my jeans pocket. Sweat trickled down my forehead. But I felt good, walking to the beat of a song only I could hear.” – Page 276

4 / 5 stars

Best wishes,


For more information:

Visit Barry Jonsberg’s website.

Check out more of my book reviews here.


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