Jewel was born on the day her brother died. While his given name was John, he was nicknamed Bird by his grandfather. At the age of five he tried to fly off a cliff.
This event has haunted the family. You find it in the invisibility cloak that shrouds Jewel. It's there in the silence: in the words not allowed to be spoken and the lost voice of her grandfather who hasn't uttered a word since that day. It's in the tension of unspoken guilt, shame and bitterness that permeates their interactions with each other. It's in the sorrow that blankets them all like a heavy fog quilt.
On the day Jewel turns twelve, a boy named John arrives in their lives. Through his friendship, Jewel finds the strength to challenge the family secrets and figure out who she is without having to try and make everyone happy. Grandfather thinks John is a ghost or 'duppy' as they are referred to in Jamaica, where he hails from. Just who and what this John might be is unknown, but one thing is for certain, his arrival disrupts the family.
Bird is a book that ponders ideas of faith and religion. It examines how what we believe can transform what we see and hear to fit within it's parameters.
Bird is a book about friendship and the power of it to help us see ourselves better.
It's about family and how messed up and lost we can feel in the middle of it.
Ultimately this is a book about redemption. No matter how fractured and steeped we are in guilt and loss, forgiveness for ourselves and others, is always possible.
What I liked:
I loved these characters. They are complicated, rich, and totally believable. That they have flaws, just makes them more authentic.
I like that it is a multicultural mix of people of different colours and ethnic backgrounds. It was interesting to learn about Jamaican beliefs and culture.
The writing is heartbreakingly beautiful. It's akin to poetry. Amandla Stenberg's narration felt as though Jewel herself was speaking to me.
What I didn't like:
Honestly, there is nothing I didn't like. I do think that some of my readers will find it too slow going for them though.