Elise loves the farm that is her home; she loves playing with beetles and chameleons in the garden, buying sweets from the village shop and listening to the stories of spirits and charms told by her nanny, Beauty. As a young white girl in 1990s Zimbabwe, her life is idyllic. Her clothes are always clean and ironed, there is always tea in the silver teapot, gin and tonics are served on the veranda, and, in theory at least, black and white live in harmony.
However this dream-world of her childhood cannot last. As Elise gets older, her eyes are opened to the complexities of adult existence, both through the changes wrought in her family by the arrival of her step-father Steve, and through her growing understanding of the tensions in Zimbabwean society. As Mugabe's presidency turns sour, the privileged world of the white farmers begins to crumble into anarchy.
The Cry of the Go-Away Bird follows Elise as she attempts to make sense of her place in the world while her family struggle to stay afloat in the collapsing economy and escalating horror that surrounds them. As the violence intensifies and the farm invasions begin, Elise and her family are forced to confront difficult choices and the ancient unforgiving ghosts of the past.