*The book discussed in this post has been gifted by Harper Teen*
Months ago when this book was announced, admittedly i only checked it out because of the stunning cover it has. It’s absolutely beautiful and once i found out what it was about, it seemed right up my street. I was lucky enough that Harper Teen gifted me some copies for myself and to share out to the bloggers that come to our LGBTQ+ book club!
I didn’t have much of an idea about this book apart from that it was LGBTQ+ and there were grief aspects going in to it. Both themes i am definitely interested, and i wanted to see how an LGBTQ+ grief novel would play out.
It’s my first experience of Jaye’s writing, and i did really enjoy it. It’s so easy to read and i flew through a lot of this book with just the ease of reading on top of having it incredibly fast paced that left me wanting to know what happened next right away. There are definitely reasons why people love Jaye’s writing, and it’s a classic contemporary style that makes you feel quite cosy and warm inside.
The story follows Jess and Vivi after Vivi passes away while they’re in high school. I loved the LGBTQ+ aspects of this book, as it didn’t seem forced and there was never a big deal made out of the fact they were LGBTQ+. Even in the school setting, there was never a moment where it had to be discussed that they were in a gay relationship in school. It was refreshing to see and something that i imagine is a little more common in schools and among teenagers now, where they are generally a little more accepting. This is the kind of LGBTQ+ content that i want from a YA book. I also appreciated Jess going through some kind of questioning of her sexuality in the middle of the book. I myself have definitely gone through that even at a later stage in life, and it needs to be normalised that this can happen.
While on the topic of representation, i really enjoyed the art involved in the book. It reminded me very much of the way Akemi Dawn Bowman talks about art in her books, and i think it’s a very interesting thing to add in to a YA novel. The representation too of female blacksmiths and women who work with their hands was excellent. It’s not often you see this aspect especially in YA but i really loved having it in there as something different and relatable to a lot of people.
The friendships and families in this book were also excellent. I really enjoyed the relationships between Levi, Chay and Jess (Jess’ friendship group) and how supportive they were of each other. I would have probably liked a bit more of them, considering they were also grieving a friend, but i really loved their inclusion in the story. Especially Levi, he’s a very soft boy.
There are definitely a few aspects to this book i didn’t love so much. I don’t want to dwell on them or discuss them in depth, but there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way or just didn’t sit right. Some sexuality comments and even a scene with inappropriate touching which was not consensual, not being mentioned again after the scene had happened. This did overall leave me with mixed feelings about the book.
I did really like the story and a lot of the representation in The Meaning Of Birds, and i’m definitely excited to hear some more opinions once it’s officially out in the world.
The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown is out on the 16th of April 2019.