‘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.
Crystal Chan’s Bird is one of those books where the words we don’t see, are just as important as those we do. So much of the hurt of the past decade is not depicted, but it does weigh heavy on those words we do get to read. The hurt and pain of the last decade is palpable and will break your heart many times over the course of the novel.
But the friendship between Jewel and the new boy in town, disrupts things and slowly starts to pick away at the families defences, and gradually they all start to live again. There are plenty of lighter moments, that will bring a smile to your face as well!
I loved Jewel’s character, fierce, independent, and loving. She never stops loving her family, despite often feeling detached from them, and even though it’s the arrival of John that starts to chip away at years of buried hurt, it’s Jewel’s strength, determination and love that eventually have the most impact.
Crystal Chan’s control of the emotional content of Jewel and her family’s story (as well as that of John’s) is one of many delights of the book, and will leave you full of hope and grateful for having being part of their story.
A delightful story, beautifully told. Highly recommended.
Buy: Bird by Crystal Chan
My copy of Bird by Crystal Chan was provided by @netgalley and the publisher Random House for review purposes.
If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!