Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-06-09T154848.862.png
Release Date:
April 4th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 375
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at NYALitFest
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T110806.863Last year I read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and completely fell in love with the characters and the beautifully written tale. When I heard Summer Bird Blue was going to be published in the UK I snapped up a copy straight away. The story follows Rumi, a young girl who loses her sister in a car crash. Her mother, consumed with grief sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii over the summer and there Rumi has to learn to cope with her grief and find the music that was so important to her and her sister.

This is such a unique, beautifully told story about family, friendship and grief. The story very much focuses in on Rumi as she tries to figure out how to live her life without her sister. It was well executed and I enjoyed seeing Rumi make friends with next door neighbour Kai and find a way back to the music that she loves so much.

Starfish was a five star read for me and part of the reason for that was the realistic characters. The characters in Summer Bird Blue are very realistic and well fleshed out, but I didn’t connect with them in the same way I did with Starfish. I really enjoyed the story, but it didn’t take my breath away like the previous book.

The story is incredibly emotional and I love the beautiful Hawaiian setting. I also loved that Bowman could so easily have introduced a romance between Rumi and Kai and instead have them remain friends. The story touches on a lot of incredibly important issues – not just grief but finding yourself, relationships and what it means to be a family. It isn’t a particularly light book, the story is quite a heavy one, but it’s executed extremely well.

While I really enjoyed it this book just didn’t blow me away, but I know Akemi Dawn Bowman fans will be overjoyed to read another gorgeous book from her. If you’re looking for a story that will keep you turning the pages but will also give you a lump in your throat, you should definitely pick up Summer Bird Blue.

3 stars

Book Review: Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

BOOK REVIEW (66)
Release Date:
April 5th 2018
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 353
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this debut novel.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Review

I picked up Starfish when I had the weekend off work, thinking to get ahead in my blog tour reading. For two afternoons I was completely immersed in this emotional roller coaster of a book. It’s a beautifully written book and was a joy to read. If you haven’t added Starfish to your wish list yet, you absolutely have to because I’m already calling this as one of the best books of the year.

The thing I loved most about Starfish has to be Kiko and the amount of depth she had. book cover (50)She was an excellently written character and one that I could probably write about for days. I absolutely loved her and I became attached so quickly to this beautiful protagonist. The representation of anxiety in this book is completely spot on, and I loved watching Kiko as she grows and develops as a character. Starfish is sweet and sad in equal measure and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough.

There is of course a romance aspect to the story, but I really enjoyed that it was a slow building relationship one that was well thought out and developed, it definitely added another layer to the story and made the characters feel more realistic. Jamie too is an excellently portrayed character, he’s sweet and determined and just the nicest character ever.

This book deals with so many more themes and topics beyond anxiety. I won’t say too much because I wouldn’t want to spoil this beautiful book for anyone but the story deals with trauma during childhood, dealing with a difficult home life as well as what it’s like to be bi-racial. This quiet, subtle book is all about finding yourself and creating an identity, and it’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’re finished reading. It’s an absolutely stunning debut (with one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen!) and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Akemi writes next.
5 stars