Bird – Crystal Chan

Title: BirdBird

Author: Crystal Chan

Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction, fiction


“Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

From the first line of this book, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more, for example how John, whose nickname is Bird, came in; how Grandpa stopped talking. And most of all, how the family was now coping with the death of their son and brother.
When I was recommended this book by a couple of my friends, I was warned it was sad. But oh, how the tears streamed down my face. Bird turned out to be a short novel from the perspective of Jewel, a 12-year-old girl, whose brother died the day she was born. Her whole life, she has grown up in Bird’s shadow. He mum never smiles anymore, not really. Her Grandpa doesn’t speak at all. She tries to impress and please her family, but she feels that she will never escape Bird’s shadow. Jewel even begins to hate her own birthday, because the rest of her family begins to mourn Bird again (her birthday is the anniversary of his death). She is sure that his shadow will haunt them forever, when she meets a boy in a tree who is also named John. Over the course of this book, secrets come out, and Jewel and her new friend discover her identity, and try to escape Bird’s shadow.

“Who were these people? Where was all this joy, and where does joy go when it leaves your family? Does it go into someone else’s family, soak into the earth, or does it dissolve away like your breath in the winter? And if it doesn’t leave like this, then why isn’t there any left for me?”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I absolutely adored this book! The characters were great, the storyline was interesting, and the style of writing was amazing. Crystal Chan uses a different style of writing than some authors, but I definitely loved it. I thought it was similar to The Book Thief’s style.

“It’s almost as if we’re afraid of words. They hang in the air, unspoken, and then seeing that they’re not going to be used, they shrivel and die.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I read Bird in a day, and I believe that may be the reason that I cried so much. I devoured it so quickly that the story didn’t have time to completely sink in, I just kept reading and reading, and absorbing the story. Other people I know who have read this book said that it was amazing and definitely sad, but it seemed to me that every new page I read, more tears streamed down my face. But it wasn’t a depressing type of tear. Quite a bit of the book was happy, and I literally had happy tears, but there was a bit of sad tears involved as well

“I don’t like crying in front of people because it shows them the holes that you have on the inside. I guess with all the crying I’d been doing lately, I had more holes than I thought.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I recommend this book to teens and older, and definitely to lovers of sad books. If you like John Green books, it has the same contemporary writing style, and if you like John Boyne books (The boy in the striped Pyjamas, Stay where you are and then leave) then you should like this book as well.

Looking back now, I realise that I probably would have understood and absorbed this book better, if I read it a little slower, but at the time, I couldn’t stop reading it. I am very thankful to the friends who recommended it to me, for if they didn’t, I never would have found or read it.

The only thing that lets Bird down is the slow pace. I usually can’t stand slow books, and I just get bored and put them away. But this book had so many mysteries, and I connected with the characters that I couldn’t leave them. I think that if it was quicker, then I wouldn’t have connected and understood it as much, and it would have lost a bit of meaning. Again, this is kind of like The Book Thief.

Why should you read it: Like I said earlier, if you like books that make you cry, then you should like this one. Also for readers of the contemporary, realism style like John Green novels.

Book in a word: Moving

Rating: 9½/10


6 thoughts on “Bird – Crystal Chan

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