Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi is a bit of a British literary indie sensation with awards left, right and centre and an ability to interview as beautifully as she writes. Just Google her and you will see what I mean.
Suffice to say, I had to read one of her books to see what all the fuss was about. I could have chosen The Icarus Girl (which Oyeyemi wrote when she was still at school), White is For Witching or Mr Fox. Equally, I could have chosen her latest collection of stories called What is Not Yours is Not Yours that pops up in my Instagram feed every few days. Instead I settled on the charmingly named Boy, Snow, Bird which was released in 2014.
Boy, Snow, Bird tells the story of a young girl who escapes her father in search of a new life in Massachusetts. She marries a widower, has a baby and inadvertently discloses his black family’s long held secret.
Set in the 1950’s with racial tensions high, the story is essentially about beauty, jealousy and how women judge and treat each other. It is also about the realities and effects of racism in America at that time.
What is truly clever about this book, is that it is written with a fairytale narrative with fairytale references throughout. The characters (especially the Rat Catcher and Snow) are dark and illusive and you feel like you are walking through the deep, dark woods at times.
Now I am going to come right out with a huge generalisation here but I wouldn’t recommend this book for a male. When I explained the above premise to my otherwise normal, book-loving husband, he looked at me like I had suggested a joint aromatherapy session during the grand final. Maybe it was something I said about fairytales…..
As for me, I loved it. I loved its originality, its mean and twisty characters and the surprise ending. I could have done without all of the filler characters in the middle but that’s just me being picky.
And that is my 2 cents worth.