Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

Title: The Star Side of Bird Hill 
Author: Naomi Jackson 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: June 30, 2015 
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "After their mother can no longer care for them, young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados to live with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother's limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother's mysterious life.

When the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family."

My Two Cents:

"The Star Side of Bird Hill" is a coming of age story of two sisters who go to stay with their grandmother in Barbados after their mother, who is fighting demons of her own, can't take care of them. The sisters will deal with their new home in very different ways and the book really explores their feelings. This is a story about family and sisters and what it takes to overcome the most difficult circumstances.

The sisters deal with feeling abandoned in different ways with vastly different outcomes. Dionne is angry and acts out at every turn. At first, I wasn't sure what was driving Dionne's hot anger. It is just so intense. Eventually we find out that she is using her anger and acting out to hide her deep pain and fear. Phaedra acts completely different. She throws herself into learning what her grandmother will teach her about midwifery. It was so interested to see the juxtaposition.

The book takes a little while to take off but as we learn more about Phaedra and Dionne and what makes them tick, the book really hits a great stride. I enjoyed getting to know the characters through this book. This is Jackson's debut novel and this book made me excited to see what the future holds for her!



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