Published: March, 2014 by Riverhead Books
Publisher’s blurb: BOY Novak turns twenty and decides to try for a brand-new life. Flax Hill, Massachusetts, isn’t exactly a welcoming town, but it does have the virtue of being the last stop on the bus route she took from New York. Flax Hill is also the hometown of Arturo Whitman –- craftsman, widower, and father of Snow. SNOW is mild-mannered, radiant and deeply cherished –- exactly the sort of little girl Boy never was, and Boy is utterly beguiled by her. If Snow displays a certain inscrutability at times, that’s simply a characteristic she shares with her father, harmless until Boy gives birth to Snow’s sister, Bird. When BIRD is born Boy is forced to re-evaluate the image Arturo’s family have presented to her, and Boy, Snow and Bird are broken apart. Sparkling with wit and vibrancy, Boy, Snow, Bird is a deeply moving novel about three women and the strange connection between them. It confirms Helen Oyeyemi’s place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of her generation.
The Author: Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots, and has written eight books so far. Anchored by her concern with fluid identities and narrative layers, Helen Oyeyemi’s fictions take us through the past and present and across continents, with language that is as strikingly playful as it is poetic and beguiling. Named one of Grata’s best young British novelists in 2013, she has won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Someerset Maugham Award and has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, The BBC National Short Story Award, and James Tiptree, Jr Award, among others.
My Thoughts: This book was given to me by a friend who thought I would like it. There were mixed reviews about it and I wanted to have my own opinion of the book and the author. I went halfway through the book quickly and then it began to really slow down until it became very cumbersome to finish but I did finish it. The story was publicized as a modern day version of the ‘Snow White’ and it seemed to be going in that direction in the first part of the book but after that, it all went in a direction that I am still trying to comprehend. The story begins with Boy, who lives with her abusive father, Frank and runs away from home when she turns 20 to Flaxhill, a small community of people who specialize in making ‘beautiful things’ for the rest of the country. She meets Arturo Whitman, a widower with a beautiful daughter named Snow who is blond and enchanting. Boy marries Arturo and realizes after the birth of her daughter, Bird, that Arturo and his family are actually ‘black’ who have been passing and living as ‘white’ people (this was totally new to me and shocking). Boy can live with this revelation but like in the snow white fairy tale, she can’t live with her step daughter Snow who she sends away to live with relatives in another city while she builds her life around her husband and daughter. I am not still clear on her motive to send her away as the story was written in a way that the reader was left to figure that out. Was it because she was ‘white’ or because she was loved and adored by everyone else? The significance of the second part of the story which was basically told by Bird and filled with letters written between her and her ‘half-sister’ Snow, somehow didn’t tie well with the first part or the theme in general and the story ends with a shocking revelation about Boy’s father (trying not give spoilers) which I thought “this is so tangential from the “supposed” plot and to be honest made me wonder why I was still trying to finish reading the book. On the other hand, I liked the way the author plays with her words in a very poetic and literary way therefore, I am still very curious about her writing and I am actually open to reading another book from her just to explore and understand her style more. In a nutshell, I didn’t quite enjoy this one so I hope that my next read will be much better. Lets wait and see!