STARRED REVIEW
September 2018

A sensitive tale of grief and self-discovery

By Akemi Dawn Bowman
Review by

Sisters Rumi and Lea are going to make music together forever. Rumi plays piano, Lea plays guitar, and together they write lyrics. That is, until Lea dies in a car crash and Rumi is sent to live with her Aunty Ani in Hawaii.

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Sisters Rumi and Lea are going to make music together forever. Rumi plays piano, Lea plays guitar, and together they write lyrics. That is, until Lea dies in a car crash and Rumi is sent to live with her Aunty Ani in Hawaii.

Rumi spends the first few weeks of her summer pondering impossible questions: Why did her mother abandon her with a relative she hardly knows? Is Rumi just like her absent father, scared of commitment and bound to abandon everyone she loves? Why does she feel so physically attracted to Aunty Ani’s teenage neighbor, Kai, even though she doesn’t have any desire to touch or kiss him? And how can she ever write, perform or even hear music again, when she’ll always have to experience it without her sister?

Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Summer Bird Blue is a story of healing. As Kai gradually coaxes Rumi back into a world of friends, summer jobs and days at the beach, Aunty Ani’s other neighbor, the grumpy Mr. Watanabe, provides an unexpected haven. Hawaii’s geography, food and language (Hawaiian Pidgin) are authentically researched and lovingly portrayed. Bowman, author of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist Starfish, once again offers a diverse, sensitive and hopeful portrayal of a teen simultaneously struggling with questions of personal identity and difficult external circumstances.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Summer Bird Blue

Summer Bird Blue

By Akemi Dawn Bowman
Simon Pulse
ISBN 9781481487757

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