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Boy, Snow, Bird

Oyeyemi, Helen.
I opened this book knowing almost nothing about it. I downloaded it onto an ereader a year ago and only opened the file a week ago. So I had no idea there was a "modern Snow White" lens though which you could read this book. I think that's for the best. The book I read was far more about self-identity and race than a fairy tale. There's lots that I liked about this book. I was drawn in to the story of the run-away, inventing a new life. I was intrigued by her abrupt about-face in attitude towards her step daughter, and I liked when the narration switched to Bird's perspective. I found the letter writing between the two sisters interesting at first, but then tiresome and a somewhat lazy device. I'm glad it didn't last any longer than it did. The one thing I was truly dissapointed with was the final segment of the book, and that now-infamous plot twist that I agree cheapens a very serious and important issue. I think going down Mia's pursuit of a great story is a dead end and out of line with a lot of the rest of the book. Having said that, I did like it. I couldn't put it down most of this weekend, and as a result blasted through in a week.
Jackie (Hespeler Library)
Named one of the best books of 2014 by the New York Times, The Globe and Mail and others, this unique book about identity and beauty deserves the accolades heaped upon it. In 1953, Boy Novak escapes an abusive father to try to find her own life in small-town Massachusetts. While she consents to marry Arturo Whitman, she's really more taken with his gorgeous and charming daughter, Snow. What Boy doesn't know is that the Whitmans are light-skinned African Americans who are "passing" for white. This becomes very clear when Boy gives birth to a dark-skinned daughter named Bird and the rift threatens to tear the family apart. Oyeyemi expertly plays with mythologies both personal and universal and the result is a dazzlingly well-written book that contains images that are rawly powerful and moving. (Published in The Waterloo Region Record March 7th)
Leah (Staff) (Queen's Square Library)