Published by Text Publishing on January 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
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Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.
Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn't spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets.
Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree.
Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.
Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut.
Bird swooped in, gripped my heart and made it soar with its poignant, heart breaking story rippling with grief, and ending with hope.
Jewel’s story is aching with heart break and lost moments, as her family seem to be a broken shell. She never knew her brother Bird, but feels his presence in everything around her – her family’s grief, her grandpa’s silence and anger, and her private place at the cliff. She’s an unlucky child who was born on the day her 5 year old brother tried to fly off the cliff and lives as a shadow in his former footsteps. All she’s known her whole life is a mum who is perpetually depressed, a father who believes in bad luck and duppies (spirits who bring bad luck) and a grandpa who has never spoken a word.
Delivered through beautiful, lyrical writing that just flows off the page, Bird captures the youth and bewilderment of a 12 year old girl in a grieving family. Jewel is just beginning to understand her struggling identity and family’s flaws, so when she meets John, a boy who shares Bird’s namesake, she finds someone who can finally understand her.
I didn’t trust myself to speak. How come my parents, who I’ve known all my life, didn’t understand why I come to this place, but John, who I met just a couple days ago, did? How can trying to make someone understand take more than a lifetime, and someone else less than an instant?
The characters are all flawed but in a realistic way, with Jewel’s family full of quirks and superstition, John coasting between being unlikable and likable, and Jewel herself both loving and hating her family. Seeing the characters slowly evolve over the course of the book was an absolute delight, as Jewel finally learns who she can trust and finds an unlikely friend in her grandpa. I’m still ambivalent about John, who would say disrespectful things about her family here and there, but then again, was a real friend to Jewel.
I’ve never read a book that featured Jamaican superstitions and traditions which was such an unusual, magical world for me. Duppies, superstitious charms and curses all have a play in the story along with reggae music and lots of rice.
The sky was never so big. I felt like an ant making my way over the dark earth as I ran on the finely ground gravel road, up the little swelling hill, and then back down it on the other side.
In a strange, uplifting turn of events, the book ends on a high note that makes the journey worth it. Bird is a stunning debut about a lost girl in a grieving family transforming into one who finally finds her place and makes peace. The emotion of the novel is felt through its every word, it’s beauty witnessed in its prose, and the growth of its characters, death defying.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that Bird took me on, and I think you will too.
Thank you to Text Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 out of 5