Starfish was one of my favourite reads of this year, i know the year isn’t done but i can’t imagine much will beat it for me. It was stunningly written and had wonderful characters. So admittedly i had extremely high hopes for Summer Bird Blue when i picked it up, and i’m glad it didn’t disappoint.
This year we’ve been lucky enough to have quite a bit of contact with Akemi. After reading Starfish myself and Sophie attended her talk in Manchester, which alone was excellent, however we also got to interview Akemi (which you can read HERE). We also had some great chats with Akemi at YALC this year, so half of me wasn’t bothered about loving Summer Bird Blue because Akemi is just an excellent human being. However i did love Summer Bird Blue and everything is right with the world.
First of all, if you loved the writing of Starfish, or are looking for an excellently written novel, this book is for you. The writing is stunning, easy to read but has such wonderful flow in a poetic way. I adore Akemi’s novels, and the writing definitely is the highlight for me of her books.
In addition to this, Summer Bird Blue had some wonderful and memorable characters. With dyslexia, i struggle to take in a lot of characters and their different traits due to not understanding a lot of what i’m reading (this is a really brief overview, i wrote a post on this HERE), but i had none of that with Summer Bird Blue. I am still thinking about the characters a few weeks on, and how different they all were, and how excellently all the characters were created.
Rumi, our main character explores each character with so much depth as she makes relationships with them, i absolutely adored this aspect of the book. As well as the characters, the themes discussed were absolutely incredible. I’ve never read a book based on grief with such heart braking reality, and it really hit me how upsetting it would be to lose someone to close. On top of that, the LGBTQ+ themes in the book were excellent. Rumi (as described in the book) is asexual, and there was much more exploration of this than i expected. Once this was discussed more, i was dreading the trope of ‘this boy is going to fix everything’, and that didn’t happen, and i’m so happy about it. It was wonderfully covered and i would have loved a whole book about her sexuality and just Rumi as a character.
The one thing i didn’t connect with hugely was the music aspects of the book. It was incredibly well done and i appreciated that focus, however i just don’t connect very well with books based around music. I really enjoy music, however i don’t overly love reading about it. It’s just not something that i’m interested in, but this is definitely a personal preference and won’t stop me constantly recommending this book!
I could talk for so much longer about what i loved about Summer Bird Blue, the characters i could talk about forever, the setting, the writing, the family relationships, absolutely everything. However that would turn in to a very long review and might get a little bit too much. But all you need to know is that this book is excellent and you should definitely read it.