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Summer Bird Blue

Review

Summer Bird Blue

The first thing that drew me in to Akemi Dawn Bowman’s SUMMER BIRD BLUE was the cover, which is so amazing and bright and beautiful that I had to resist the urge to show it off to everybody that I knew. I mean, just look at it --- what's not to love? I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but the beauty of this one was definitely part of the reason I was drawn in. But it's the incredible story that follows that made me stay!

Rumi's younger sister, Lea, tragically dies in a car accident, and her mother is so overwhelmed with grief that she sends Rumi to live with her aunt in Hawaii. But as beautiful as the island is, Rumi can't let her hate and fear and guilt go, and she finds herself lashing out at everyone around her. It's only when she meets some of her neighbors and starts to befriend them that she learns how to take the pain she's feeling, process it, and continue living her life instead of shutting down. All while trying to finish the song she promised her sister they'd write together.

"Akemi Dawn Bowman has a talent for making me feel as a reader, weeping and laughing onto the pages. This book was definitely a gem that I'll be recommending to everyone around me..."

I really liked Rumi's character, even if sometimes she felt abrasive or angry. I realized that in a lot of the books I read, the main character is always this perfect, happy-go-lucky person who might be going through something, but their general attitude about things is positive. So seeing Rumi's hurt and anger and fears all splashed across the pages made her feel so real to me, and I think it definitely gave her a lot more depth. Seeing the way the people around her didn't take her anger and just let her continue to lash out really made me laugh, too. Especially her interactions with Mr. Watanabe --- those were my favorite!

Rumi and Lea's relationship reminded me a lot of mine and my sister's, which was both good and bad. While they were really close sisters that loved each other and did everything together, there were also moments where Rumi would lash out and be cruel for no reason, simply out of jealousy or spite or just because she could. Seeing her reflect on those moments and realize that there were times she didn't have to be so cruel for no reason made me think of all the times I as an older sister did that to my own siblings growing up, and it made me reflect and understand how life is short, tomorrow isn't guaranteed and I should maybe spend more time apologizing for those hurtful things than doing them just because I can. That was really eye-opening for me.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the setting. My brother is currently living in Hawaii, specifically in the areas that this book keeps mentioning, so reading this book made my heart feel warm and it reminded me of him (and the fact that I should probably call him, LOL). I think Bowman did an excellent job with creating the setting in this book, and making Hawaii seem less like something foreign and far away and more of something that the reader could settle themselves into and experience, whether or not they've actually been there.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading SUMMER BIRD BLUE. Rumi's story was painful to digest at times, because I couldn't ever imagine experiencing the horrors that she has, but I think that's also part of why I loved the story. Akemi Dawn Bowman has a talent for making me feel as a reader, weeping and laughing onto the pages. This book was definitely a gem that I'll be recommending to everyone around me (including you!), and I'm absolutely looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Reviewed by Jessica Cozzi on September 19, 2018

Summer Bird Blue
by Akemi Dawn Bowman