Mar 05

Boy, Snow, Bird By Helen Oyeyemi Book Review

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Boy, Snow, Bird By Helen Oyeyemi Book ReviewAs Boy, Snow, Bird By Helen Oyeyemi was delivered to me I started to see review of it everywhere. Much hyped and fawned over, I decided to put all of that aside to focus on the merits of the book myself.

Boy, Snow, Bird is about three women; Boy, who escapes an abusive parent and ends up in a small town in Massachusetts, solely because it is the last stop on the bus route she took from New York, the locals aren’t welcoming but she wins them round in the end and ends up marrying a widower who is the father of Snow. Lastly, Bird is Boy’s daughter. Who brings up the truth about the family she has married into: they are African Americans who pass themselves of as white.

Whenever a child comes out with darker skin, they are sent off to live with an aunt. The aunt who, incidentally, was sent away herself for being dark-skinned.

With hints of Imitation of Life, the excellent 1959 Lana Turner film where a young women turns against her own mother because she is a light-skinned African American and can pass for white; this book is a rather wonderfully written take on race, vanity and family.


Spoiler Alert

When Boy’s own child comes out dark-skinned she is supposed to send her away. Instead she sends away the beautiful Snow, a decision which causes much dismay to Snow and her in-laws. A further twist comes at the end

Well written and hard to put down, the novel has plenty of twists and turns and an ending that I did not see coming and to be brutally honest, initially didn’t really get it as it was so left of field. However, the ending is not a bad ending at all, it is imaginative in fact. Bird, Snow, Bird is a very good book. Well worth a read.


Named one of 2014’s most anticipated books by CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage, Time.com, The Chicago Tribune, VulturePhiladelphia Inquirer, Real Simple, The Millions and Flavorwire
From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

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.

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Boy, Snow, Bird can be bought here.