This review is spoiler free.
“Some people are meant to be forever, like Lea and me. And other people come into your life for a reason – you help each other figure shit out and come to terms with complicated feelings that you can’t process on your own.”
Published: 2018, by Simon Pulse.
Format: eBook/ARC from Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT, Fiction
Contains: Death, Mourning, Grief, Anger, Divorce, Abandonment, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Neglect, Psychiatric Hospitals
I received a copy of this book from Simon Pulse through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
‘Summer Bird Blue’ follows Rumi Seta after the tragic death of younger sister, Lea. Her Mother, struck with grief, sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii, leaving her to fend for herself against her own pain alone. Whilst alone out there, Rumi learns how to cope with the loss of her sister, mother, and love for music. Yet, with the help of “boy next door” Kai, and eighty-year-old George Watanabe, she learns to pick up the fight once more.
After falling in love with Starfish and Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing style, I knew I had to request this story the moment I saw it. Her work has such a lasting impact on me, and I just knew I’d love this book.
‘Summer Bird Blue’ is an extremely heavy novel, full of anger, grief and raw pain. However, it’s also incredibly addictive and relatable for those who have dealt with loss. It doesn’t romanticise the grief, exploring the depths of it with pure realness, making this an incredibly important read. With Bowman’s gorgeous writing, I felt Rumi’s pain. She was conflicted for the majority of the novel, having mood swings of anger and hope, but there was no moment where I felt it was overwritten; every moment in this story is understandable. However, the main appraisal I have for this novel is Rumi’s development. From beginning to end, Rumi grows into a more understanding person. She develops the ability to manage her emotions, and process the events throughout the story. Her journey is simply beautiful.
Throughout the story, the writing style and plot development made for the embodiment of Rumi’s emotions; everything felt fast-paced, tight and complex. Yet, when things gradually began to take form, the binds loosened, as did Rumi. It made for an incredibly effective read. The writing itself was beautifully lyrical, flowing from page to page and made for the perfect afternoon read.
Overall, this story was both heartwarming, and heartbreaking. There were times when I physically smiled, and there were times where I wiped away a tear. A powerful read.