Today I get to share with you my review of Crystal Chan’s debut novel, Bird. This is a beautiful novel with a gorgeous cover – one of those covers that I like even more after finishing the book because it fits it so perfectly. Text Publishing has generously offered a copy to giveaway (open to Australian and New Zealand residents) so be sure to check out the bottom of this post on how to enter.
Author: Crystal Chan
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: 29th January 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.
The day Jewel was born, her five-year old brother, Bird, tried to fly… but didn’t survive the fall. Her family has been broken ever since. Her grandfather has not spoken a word since that day and is a husk of the man he used to be. Her parents seem to barely notice her and Jewel is still living in the shadow of the brother she never even met. When Jewel meets John, the nephew of a neighbour, the secrets of the past and the things her family won’t talk about come to the surface and force everyone to face reality.
Bird, Crystal Chan’s debut novel, is a heartbreaking read. The main character, Jewel, is the perfect person to narrate this story. She has the bluntness of a child who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. I found her style to be candid and heartfelt as well as completely believable. She’s hurt and feels alone despite having her family around her. I admired her tenacity and the passion she has for geology. Reading about Jewel’s memories of her relationship with her mother broke my heart and her interactions with her grandpa really made me feel for the young girl.
I loved reading about Jewel’s friendship with John. I don’t believe Jewel does anything half-hearted and her camaraderie with him was beautiful to read. The way the two bonded over their own secrets and problems was authentic and added another layer of realism to this novel. Their passion for astronomy and geology was contagious and the way they spoke about their fields was beautiful. I loved how Jewel described rocks and her eagerness to learn about the stars from John.
The culture of Jewel’s blended family ran strong throughout this novel. The food, music and spiritual beliefs of her father’s Jamaican ancestry and her mother’s Mexican heritage all add to make Jewel’s family different. With Bird’s death still haunting her family, Jewel struggles to make her parents listen to her and support her choices. She has to cope with being unique among the people of Iowa and trying to navigate what she believes. Her father’s strong belief in spirits (or “duppies”) cause Jewel to question certain things in her life and directly contrast her mother’s Catholic beliefs. The spirituality of Jewel’s grandfather and father really drew me in. I found myself questioning Jewel’s reality and eager to discover the existence of duppies at times.
I think Bird is one of the most beautiful written novels I’ve read. The voice of Jewel was a pleasure to read and I adored where Crystal Chan took me on this journey. The characters are all flawed and that adds to their appeal. The story and Jewel’s candid narration was both heart breaking and moving. I adored this book and highly recommend it.
Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.
Purchase the novel from:
Thanks to Text Publishing
1 print edition of Bird by Crystal Chan to giveaway
**Open to Australian and New Zealand Residents only**
Please leave a comment on this post to enter and then
Entries Close February 6th, 2014
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Check out other stops on the Bird Blog Tour!
Tuesday 28th January
Extract on Gobblefunked
Review by Mandy and Guest Post by Crystal Chan on veganYAnerds
Review by Bec at First Impressions
Saturday 01st February
12 Curly Questions on Kids’ Book Review
Review by Kelly at Diva Booknerd
Review by Melanie at YA Midnight Reads
Review by Naomi at inkcrush
Review and Q&A with Danielle at ALPHAReader