Monday, May 12, 2014

boy, snow, bird

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
(Riverhead, 2014)
Format: library book

From Goodreads: "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 favorite 2014 title so far! And another author I'm going to have to library-stalk until I've read everything she's published. I had to poke around a little to find my way in to this book (it starts out a little ethereal even as it describes the grim home life that Boy - her name is Boy - is driven to escape.) But once in, I sank completely and wasn't in the least willing to emerge.

It's fabulous - fabulous in two senses. There is excellence here, and there are fables. The modern Snow White, twisted and turned and then inverted and then played with all silly-like but with the serious intent that makes this a book worth savoring, and thinking about. Boy, Snow, and Bird all have wonderful voices, and Bird in particular sang to me. Her section of the novel wove the others together, reflecting Boy, in particular, back upon herself. It's magic and it's gorgeous and it's all too real.

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