Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I traded an arc on Twitter shortly before release date and I honestly didn’t know what it was about going in. I’m glad I didn’t know what this book was going in because the synopsis doesn’t do it justice. It was so beautifully written and is just a masterpiece. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but this book will rip your heart to shreds and your left wanting to know what happens next.
The writing in this novel was amazing, I loved that the author included two different languages other than English, it had me looking some up trying to figure out what they meant. The fact of the way her grandparent’s culture approached ghosts was so intriguing. They respected the dead, gave them gifts and cooked for them. They were given a whole month to appreciate their loved ones.
The characters had so much growth throughout this book. Leigh alone had so much growth with finding out who she was and where her mother came from. Her friendship with Axel was the main issue throughout the book and it was great to watch their friendship grow and morph. You watch Leigh struggle with the guilt and secrets her family was keeping and through the flashbacks she gets to know her mother and family better.
The story does flip back and forth between present time and memories from Leigh’s family members. This was probably one of my favorite aspects of the book. How the author would describe the transitions and color changes was so beautifully done. All I could imagine was a rainbow puff cloud each time the colors changed. The magical realism throughout this book made it such an immersable read.
One of the main topics in this book is suicide, in the synopsis, it does say Leigh’s mother took her own life. If that is in anyway a trigger for you, I would avoid this book as it deals with the grief, anger, guilt, and sadness that comes from losing a loved one this way. This book does show that we as a society shouldn’t be rude or cruel to someone being depressed. We should be there for them in any way they need us and try to get them the best help you can. I see so many comments about telling one to “man up” or “suck it up, that’s life”. For someone in that state it is not that easy to just suck it up and for anyone who needs help, please seek it. You are loved, valid and there is help out there.