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Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel (edition 2014)

by Helen Oyeyemi (Author)

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903669,768 (3.49)101
Title:Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel
Authors:Helen Oyeyemi (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2014), Edition: First Edition, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi

  1. 00
    The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine (W.MdO)
  2. 00
    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (unlucky)
    unlucky: Like Boy Snow Bird, The Snow Child is a retelling of a fairy tale aimed at adults that incorporates elements of magical realism
  3. 00
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Tanya-dogearedcopy)

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» See also 101 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
a bit scattershot, but could have really worked. maybe pull in the story-telling to be a bit more integral. the ending was a disappointment, though; just plonked.

it needed snow to take the narrative, become human. near resolution, but telling it from boy's perspective left it hollow. felt like she'd built up this aloof character and didn't know what to do with her, and so wrote in the rat catcher at the last second. old "surprising, but inevitable", but this ending lacks the "inevitable" bit, so the "surprise" falls flat. just "...that's all?"
  shmibs | Jun 13, 2017 |
I think the book started in the 1930s. Boy is a girl who was raised by her abusive father; her mother wasn’t around. She doesn’t leave until she is 20ish, when she hops on a bus to take her anywhere else. She ends up in a small town and tries her best to fit in. She does marry and inherits a stepdaughter, Snow. Boy later has a daughter of her own named Bird.

This was told mostly by Boy’s point of view, but the middle section is from Bird’s point of view when she’s 13. It was… different. I’m rating it ok, as some parts of it were interesting, but some of it wasn’t. It started off really promising, when Boy was younger, and I probably found that the most interesting part of the book. It wasn’t a long book, so it didn’t take long to read. It was hard keeping track of some of the characters. I skimmed over some of the long paragraphs. At first, I enjoyed the letters between the two sisters, but then they got wordy and talked about things I really didn’t care about… things that I’m not sure really meant anything to the story. Boy made some odd decisions/choices and I didn’t like her much of the time. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | May 17, 2017 |
I biked to King's College to get this book from the library, and god, when you've been spending a lot of time between Southern Ontario Gothic university architecture and the awfulness of downtown buildings and construction, getting to a neat little college campus makes you feel like you've biked into a summer camp. Like Green College at UBC, you see money showing in the fact that someone cared about aesthetic. And maybe that doesn't seem relevant to a book review. I'll be getting other books from the King's Library. But this one in particular will be associated with warm summer days and quiet private colleges and a bit of an imagined life.

This book is a great take on fairytale stepmothers and female-centred relationships. I loved the primacy it gave to women's relations to other women. It's so refreshing. The individuals are more complicated than in a fairy tale, and the strain of magical realism is wonderfully done. There's so much that's real and serious and believable for the time(s) it portrays, and then there's this side that I think the reader is supposed to be a little unsure about. These tricks with mirrors. These collective-unconscious fable-creations. This talking to spiders. Is it fancy or is it reality?

I felt the conclusion could have been stronger, it felt a bit rushed to me. I liked the book a lot, but not enough to put it on my "books-what-I-liked" shelf, which should really be books-what-I-loved, or books-what-seemed-to-define-who-I-am. Which is the only reason it gets four stars instead of five. Still, I'd happily recommend this to just about anyone and am interested in reading more Oyeyemi. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
It's a strange book, echoing elements of various fairy and folk tales, though not actually retelling anything. I found it hard to get through the first section, with its troubled, morally ambiguous narrator. The second part, narrated by her teenaged daughter, is more straightforward and enjoyable, and allows the reader to see the first character through a different perspective. The third part returns to the original narrator, with less complexity than earlier, but the plot, inasmuch as there is one, gets stranger. Not a particularly satisfying book, though it did raise some issues to think about.
  SylviaC | Oct 24, 2016 |
In Boy, Snow, Bird Helen Oyeyemi weaves an elaborate story around Snow White's not-so-wicked stepmother, one that involves separated sisters, tricky mirrors, a cruel rat-catcher, and the problems and indignities of blacks passing for white in a racist world.

This overstuffed novel simply has too much--too many narrators, too many plot points, and too many secondary characters with similar names. I found it unengaging. ( )
  akblanchard | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
I have mixed feelings about Boy, Snow, Bird. But I do have to say that my opinion sways heavily toward the positive! I’ve never read anything by Oyeyemi before, though Mr Fox has been on my book depository wishlist for a while now, and I found her writing style to mesh really well with my tastes.

That’s a little bit of a weird thing to say, and I realize that. I’ll say it in a different way that might be more relatable: this book definitely had the potential to become one of my favorites. I really thought that’s where it was heading – Oyeyemi really knows how to write.

Boy, Snow, Bird is, among other things, a historical narrative that deeply explores race, discrimination, and passing. These elements also help solidify the book’s connections to the Snow White fairy tale. The beginning of the book is narrated by a blonde white woman named Boy, so these elements of the plot are introduced with a light emphasis through her, but they become a huge focus later on. I thought this was an interesting way to draw in the common reader, who may not have picked up this book if it were marketed differently.

Through Boy, the reader develops empathy and then when her life gets tangled in racial discourse, there’s more outrage than would have been there with a POC narrator.
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Wake, girl. Your head is becoming the pillow. --Eleanor Ross Taylor
For Piotr Cieplak
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Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"A reimagining of the Snow White story set in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s"--

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Average: (3.49)
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