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The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel by Naomi…

The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel

by Naomi Jackson

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1361388,280 (3.72)7



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A excellent tale of two girls shipped back their grandmother in Barbados when their mother's depression overwhelmed her. It's a coming of age story under difficult circumstances. ( )
  snash | May 28, 2017 |
“Sixty-three years on this earth had taught Hyacinth that it wasn’t so much the mistakes that people made but how flexible they were in their aftermath that made all the difference in how their lives turned out.”

the star side of bird hill is a very good debut novel - it is vivid and compelling, and has a wonderful heart to it. in particular, the characters of 10yo phaedra, her grandmother, hyacinth and longtime family friend and seamstress jean really caught my interest. there are some wobbles with the book, though, which i found a bit hard to overlook when considering my review. near the very end of the novel there is a bit of a twist thrown into things concerning errol, father of phaedra and dionne. i am not convinced this was completely necessary and it felt a bit forced and convenient. as well, i sometimes felt the book dipped a bit too much into sentimentality-ville so that rather than enjoying the story, i was distracted by wondering about the intention behind the writing in these moments. (if that makes sense??)

these quibbles aside, i quite enjoyed this novel. i loved the setting of barbados, reading about the place and its characters, and contemplating the struggles of family. the strong matriarchal anchor was hugely appealing to me as well. i also loved that i began reading this book on saturday, 16th july, and this date is noted in the story. serendipity in reading is awesome! (yeah, i know - that might sounds silly to some, but i notice things like this and though it was cool.) ( )
  Booktrovert | Jul 18, 2016 |
A very enjoyable read of a kind I almost never seek out. I admire Jackson for fearlessly adopting a nearly antiquated way of storytelling, at least in the realms of contemporary literary fiction--the novel is written with an omniscient voice, interspersed with lyrical passages of free indirect style, the kind of book Thomas Hardy might have written if he were a young woman of West indian origin writing in the 21st century. It's a brave and very effective choice that allowed the author to write exceedingly tender and beautiful passages of community gatherings and ways of life. The story took me right to the edge of two precipitously dangerous metaphorical cliffs, sentimentalism and melodrama, but never fell over. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
A man and a woman unite in love and run from Caribbean island life to the US in search of their future. Two children later, an onset of depression and substance abuse for the woman has her driving away her man and unable to care for the children. The girls are shipped off to grandmother back in Barbados for the summer. There is an instant clash of island ways and NYC attitude. We see the girls face womanhood through the love, friendship, and hostility of the island's young people. Tragedy strikes the family, not once but twice, before we find the girls realizing the world is a harsh planet. Grandma is their rock. This is an emotional coming of age tale from a new voice in the literary world. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy. ( )
  musichick52 | Nov 14, 2015 |
"An absolutely lovely coming of age tale."
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2015/11/the-star-side-of-bird-hill-naomi-jack... ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Nov 8, 2015 |
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Suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them, sisters Phaedra and Dionne spend the summer of 1989 living with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.… (more)

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