Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Bird by Crystal Chan

BirdBird by Crystal Chan

Author: Crystal Chan
Series: -
Pages: 295
Publisher/Source: Text Publishing
Release date: 29th January 2014


Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree.

Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut

Review: 4 ½ out of 5 stars

Bird was such a pleasant surprise, with beautiful poetic prose, elegant writing and intriguing characters it is a book which captured and held my attention.

Jewels five year-old brother John ‘Bird died the day she was born, a tragedy that broke a family – Grandpa stopped talking and her parents were grief stricken; it has been that way for twelve years.

On Jewels twelfth birthday she climbs a tree and meets John, an African American boy who soon becomes her closest friend; they made a wonderful pair with their ambitions and friendship, the way they played and interacted were reminiscent of what we’d do as children which I really appreciated.

Jewels life was filled with sorrow, her family dynamic was strained; she was extremely lonely, I found her story heart-breaking. I couldn’t help but hope that her parents would pay her the attention she craved and needed but they were seemingly lost in their own misery and oblivious whilst Jewel navigated her childhood more or less alone.

I enjoyed the way the author explored culture and spirituality and the small astronomy and geology tidbits and references; I also had no idea what a duppy was (an evil spirit) but I found this aspect to be fascinating and incorporated into the story well. The sublime setting of Iowa was vivid, the details and dialogue entertaining, I relished the depth in which the story was told.

Bird is a book filled with heart and hope and reflects on a family’s guilt, grief and loss; it was an emotionally poignant read that was written exquisitely and with compassion, told in first person narrative it gave us great insight into Jewels character which I feel was important to gain a sense of her true inner voice and to fully understand her emotions.

As an older reader, I don’t tend to read and enjoy MG but Bird was a book with a mature protagonist, storyline and the wisdom that I felt was perfect for not only the younger reader but the more mature reader as well, it was a captivating read.

Thank you to Text Publishing Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Crystal ChanAbout the author: Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She has published articles in several magazines; given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; and been a professional storyteller for children and adults alike.

In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle. Her debut middle-grade novel, Bird, is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She is represented by Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management.


  1. I really enjoyed Bird too. I thought it was a beautifully written book!

    1. It was written very well, I couldn't put it down and it isn't anything like what a normally read.

  2. :))) I am so, so glad you loved this, Sharon! I too thought this was wonderful and so emotional!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

    1. My heart broke for Jewel, it was such a wonderful book.

  3. This sounds beautiful and I love how realistic and touching it sounds.Lose is always hard and this sounds well done from the prose to the friendship. I will keep an eye out for this one Sharon :)

    1. It was a really lovely read Kimba! I tend to avoid MG but this was quite mature.

  4. I haven't heard much about this book but I remember seeing the cover and being curious. It does sound really beautiful!

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed it Candace, beautifully written and an enjoyable story,

  5. This is new to me, but after reading your review, I think I'd like to check it out.

    1. It was great Ellen, I'm actually re-reading to my 9yo son at the moment and he is enjoying it too.


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