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Summer Bird Blue
Cover of Summer Bird Blue
Summer Bird Blue
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"A lyrical novel about grief, love, and finding oneself in the wake of a tragic loss." —Bustle
"Gorgeous prose and heartbreaking storytelling." —Paste Magazine
"Grabs your heart and won't let go." —Book Riot

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

Three starred reviews for this stunning novel about a mixed-race teen who struggles to find her way back to her love of music in the wake of her sister's death, from the author of the William C. Morris Award finalist Starfish.
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn't have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the "boys next door"—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn't take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.
"A lyrical novel about grief, love, and finding oneself in the wake of a tragic loss." —Bustle
"Gorgeous prose and heartbreaking storytelling." —Paste Magazine
"Grabs your heart and won't let go." —Book Riot

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

Three starred reviews for this stunning novel about a mixed-race teen who struggles to find her way back to her love of music in the wake of her sister's death, from the author of the William C. Morris Award finalist Starfish.
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn't have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the "boys next door"—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn't take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    720
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue. She is also a Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2018
    Music helps a Washington state teenager overcome guilt and grief after the death of her beloved younger sister.After a car accident that takes the life of Rumi Seto's younger sister, Lea, Rumi feels guilt about surviving and is certain that her mother wishes Rumi had died instead. With her mother checked out and blank with sorrow, an angry, hardened Rumi is sent to stay with her Aunty Ani in Hawaii, where she meets a host of local characters, including Kai, a charismatic half-Korean/half-Japanese boy. Rumi also spends some time with Mr. Watanabe, her aunt's gruff elderly neighbor, who has dealt with his own tragedy. Eventually, as Rumi is able to find her way back to the music she and Lea had shared and write the song that she believes she owes her sister, she becomes able to fully grieve. She also makes a discovery that helps reconcile her with her mother. Rumi's mother is half-Japanese/half-Hawaiian, and her estranged father is white. Accurately reflecting the setting, the book is populated with a host of hapa (biracial) and Asian- and Pacific Islander-American characters. One subplot follows Rumi as she becomes comfortable with her aromantic and asexual feelings. Convincing local details and dialogue, masterful writing, and an emotionally cathartic climax make this book shine. A strikingly moving book about teenage grief. (Fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2018

    Gr 8 Up-A stunning story filled with the healing power of friendship, family, and music. Rumi is spending the summer in Hawaii with her Aunt Ani after a devastating car accident kills her sister Lea. Her mother is stuck in her own world of grief, and Rumi feels lost. She becomes close with two neighbors, a cantankerous Mr. Watanabe, who has suffered loss of his own, and cheerful Kai, the seemingly classic boy next door. Rumi is filled with a rage she can't even express, lashing out at those around her because of her recent loss, mother's desertion, and father's abandonment years ago. Rumi is also struggling to figure out who she is and what she is meant to do, which feels so important now with Lea gone. All Rumi wants to do is fulfill her last promise to her sister and write their final song. This story is filled with skillful and nuanced representation. Rumi is a biracial protagonist trying to understand her sexuality while working through the unstoppable anger and pain that comes with grief. Because of, rather than in spite of, her harsh personality, Rumi will feel authentic and relatable to teens. The language is extraordinary and the use of pidgin gives the characters a clear and real voice, adding to the perfect sense of place. VERDICT A beautiful, complex, and heartrending tale that belongs in all libraries.-Kristyn Dorfman, The Nightingale-Bamford School, New York City

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 8, 2018
    Bowman (Starfish) writes about a mixed-race young woman finding her voice through the arts in an emotionally taut story that explores the nuances of sisterly love. After surviving a car accident that kills her younger sister, Lea, 17-year-old Rumi is sent to live with her aunt Ani in Kailua, Hawaii, while her mother stays behind in Washington State. At first, Rumi can barely function: she isn’t eating, she isn’t really speaking, and she has lost all interest in the music she once loved to write. Ani’s neighbors—prickly old Mr. Watanabe, who is grieving over the deaths of his wife and son years earlier, and recent high school graduate Kai—capture Rumi’s interest. Through these growing relationships, she slowly finds her footing, as well as her desire to create new music. Rumi’s pain infuses the narrative, allowing readers a peek into her psyche through both present-day regrets (“I failed as a sister and a daughter”) and sections revealing relevant memories of Lea (“She’s always had it so much easier than me, and it’s not fair”). Ages 12–up. Agent: Penny Moore, Empire Literary.  

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    Simon Pulse
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Summer Bird Blue
Summer Bird Blue
Akemi Dawn Bowman
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