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Boy, Snow, Bird

Boy, Snow, Birdby Helen Oyeyemi

A modern-day fairy tale, Boy, Snow, Bird takes place in small town Massachusetts, 1953.  Fleeing an abusive father, Boy Novak arrives in Flax Hill and adopts it as her home.  She meets and marries Arturo Whitman and becomes a mother to his beautiful daughter, Snow.

Snow’s goodness and beauty is legendary, and she’s often treated like a delicate doll.  At first Boy is absolutely taken with her, but when her own daughter, Bird, is born, Boy becomes, shockingly, the wicked stepmother.  To Boy’s surprise, Bird is dark-skinned.  Her birth reveals deep secrets about the Whitman family.  Boy loves her daughter and cannot stand the contrast between Bird and the perfect Snow.  She sends Snow away, and Bird grows up knowing little about her sister.

Helen Oyeyemi’s novel touches on dark family secrets.  It features chilling scenes with Boy’s father (the rat catcher), and later portrays a family that shuns its own racial heritage. The final chapters reveal the strangest secret of all as Boy’s family ties are finally explored.  The end will leave readers feeling breathless… and wanting more.