Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Title: Boy, Snow, Bird
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publish Date: March 6, 2014
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold."

My Two Cents:

"Boy Snow Bird" is a book by Helen Oyeyemi, an author that I had been wanting to try for awhile. It is the story of Boy, a young woman who is running away from her troubled and difficult past in New York City. She finds herself in Massachusetts, which is where she meets Arturo, a man she falls in love with and marries. Boy then becomes the stepmother to Arturo's daughter, Snow. But when Arturo and Boy have a child together, Boy realizes that Arturo and his family are light-skinned African-Americans who are passing White. It's the 1950s and this is a scandal!

One of the things that made me interested in reading this book is that it was billed as being a retelling of the fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. However, this isn't exactly a retelling. There are definitely elements from that story such as their recurrence of the appearance of mirrors in the story as well as Boy being sort of a wicked stepmother to Arturo's first daughter, Snow. That being said I wasn't disappointed in this book even though it turned out quite differently from what I thought it was going to be in the beginning.

This is my first time reading this author but I know that I will be back for more. I like the way that she was able to weave some magical realism throughout the story, which is one of my favorite elements. The author also has a really interesting way of using subtle details in order to make the reader think.

I did wish that we as readers were able to get a little bit closer to the characters in the book. Even though the book is narrated from their perspective, it still felt as if in many cases they were keeping the reader at arms' length. The sparkling writing made up for that at least a little bit for me!


1 comment:

  1. That sounds like such an interesting story and one that I can't say I've ever read about before.

    Kate @ Ex Libris


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