Review of Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.
Boy, Snow, Bird is beautiful, haunting, modern and loose re-telling of the fairy tale of Snow White. The ending made me so mad that I almost chucked the e-reader across the room.
The story is about Boy Novak moving to a new place and starting her life over again. She meets a man named Arturo who has a beautiful daughter named Snow.
Their relationship changes when she gives birth to a child named Bird. The interactions between Boy, Snow and Bird are what to watch for in this well-described tale.
I loved the characters and the huge twists in this book so much. I was reminded of the twist in The Life of Pi. Oyeyemi was able to flip the narrative over and make it something else by unveiling a rather large surprise towards the end.
Still though, that ending. I can’t make up my mind whether it was awesome or infuriating.
At any rate, this is a book that captured my attention and held it mercilessly until it was done.
Oyeyemi can write. Check out this passage: “The town should really have been called Flax Hills, since it was huddled up between two of them, but maybe that was the locals’ way of instructing one of the hills to scram. The hills are ringed round with old, dark, thick-trunked trees. They’re so tall you feel a false stillness standing under them; when you look all the way up, you see the wind crashing through the topmost branches, but you hear all the commotion only distantly, if at all…” pg 26.
Here’s a quotation about the balance of power between men and women: “I watched wealthy men and their wives and dates dancing and playing cards and making deals: I will admire you exactly as much, no more or less, as you admire me. I will love you in the strictest moderation. Some couples seemed pleased with their negotiations and others were in despair.” pg 31
The beginning of a love story in three lines: “Because he says he can’t stand you and you act like you can’t stand him, and whenever a man and woman behave like that toward each other, it usually means something’s going on. There’s a precious metal kind of gleam about you, and the man’s a jeweler, you know. So look out.” pg 33
I really liked Oyeyemi’s character development. In this passage, she takes a stab at describing the small things that we look for in each other: “…he knew how to lean in and light a girl’s cigarette with a look and a smile that had me stubbing my cigarette out whenever his attention was elsewhere, just so he’d light up another one for me. It could have been the way he guarded the flame with his palm, the unexpected care with which he carried it up toward your lips; who knows what makes a man’s gesture attractive?” pg 56-57
Finally, I enjoyed Oyeyemi’s interpretation of the magic that exists in every day life: “…a whole lot of technically impossible things are always trying to happen to us, appear to us, talk to us, show us pictures, or just say hi, and you can’t pay attention to all of it, so I just pick the nearest technically impossible thing and I let it happen. Let me know how it goes if you try it.” pg 177
I’m off to try the “nearest technically impossible thing.” Thanks for reading!