Bird by Crystal Chan
Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John. His name was John until Grandpa said he looked more like a Bird with the way he kept jumping off things, and the name stuck. Bird's thick, black hair poked out in every direction, just like the head feathers of the blackbirds, Grandpa said, and he bet that one day Bird would fly like one too. Grandpa kept talking like that, and no one paid him much notice until Bird jumped off a cliff, the cliff at the edge of the tallgrass prairie, the cliff that dropped a good couple hundred feet to a dried-up riverbed below. From that day on, Grandpa never spoke another word. Not one.
The day that Bird tried to fly, the grown-ups were out looking for him - all of them except Mom and Granny. That's because that very day, I was born.'
Twelve-year-old Jewel never knew her brother, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Then one night, on her birthday, she finds a mysterious boy sitting in her oak tree. His name is John. And he changes everything.
*Received in exchange for an honest review*
*Thank you, Random House*
Awww this was such a beautifully written book. I was lucky enough to receive it in a goody bag at the Random House Blogger Brunch and wasted absolutely no time in opening it. The very first page gripped me and I was intrigued to discover how the trauma of the loss of a brother, son and grandchild has on a family. With many 5* reviews I was praying that I wouldn't be 'the odd one out' in this book. It goes without saying that I absolutely loved it. It's so poetical, intriguing and heart wrenching. An impossible novel to dislike.
I loved reading from the perspective of such a young narrator. Jewel is just 12 years old. Her age is made absolutely clear in her narrative - the variety of beliefs that are held by her family are influential and it had me questioning the truths of identities and events which unfold in the book. There is plenty of mystery surrounding Grandpa and I was really intrigued to discover whether he would ever talk to Jewel like he did with Bird. Bird shows the struggles of a family coming to terms with the loss of a child and member of the family. Worst of all, the blame falls on a member of the family - Grandpa - and the narrative shows the difficulty in forgiving someone for the loss of someone so precious.
The relationships in this book are explored beautifully, with the relationship between Jewel and John blossoming into something beautiful. These two young characters are incredibly bright and I loved reading their conversations about geology and astronomy. The little habits that they have picked up are so moving and I found myself yearning for Jewel to get the attention she deserves. Bird is such a tragic yet hopeful story and I can't recommend it enough. It's absolutely beautiful to read and guaranteed to give you all of the feels. It would make such a beautiful film - here's hoping!