This is my review for Boy, Snow, Bird, there might be some spoilers, but I’ll keep it to a minimum.
Synopsis via Good Reads:
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
This book is brilliant, I love the details and the character development. I also enjoyed reading as every character’s secret came to light, some were sad, but when revealed it made the character better.
Where do I begin? Boy’s father or the rat catcher as she calls him, is abusive-from shoving her head in water to tying her up in a basement full of rats. The rat catcher is anything but normal. In the beginning, Boy lived in her imagination, looking for ways to escape or die. At one point I couldn’t tell if it was an imaginary tale or her own story. Let’s move on, one night Boy escapes and ends up in a small Massachusetts town where everyone specializes in something from jewelry making to cake baking. She finds a place to live meets new friends and does odd jobs (which she loses) and double dates. She ends up falling in love with Arturo Whitman, who she hated before and settles down, now, Arturo is widowed with a five year old daughter name Snow that everyone loves and adores.
Now, everything is going great until Boy has Arturo’s baby and the baby is BLACK (shocking) this is the 1950’s-60’s so it’s shocking, what is more shocking is that Arturo is a black man who has been passing off as white. What made me mad at this point was the way people treated Boy and her daughter Bird, like, she was something to be ashamed of. Especially, Olivia Arturo’s mom-who we find out sent Arturo’s sister to live with her aunt because she could not pass as white and fell in love with a black man. Now, around this time Olivia tries to convince Boy to send Bird to Clara (Arturo’s sister) but in a turn of events, Boy sends precious Snow, who has been getting on her nerves because of all the love given to her and not Bird.
The next part of the book tells Bird’s story and I love this part of the book because Bird is spunky and at 13 knows who she is or at least what she’d want to be in the future. And unlike her mom, Bird is comfortable in her own skin. She also has a little boyfriend on the side which I think is adorable. What I like about Bird is that she knows she is Black, she knows she’s different and that is ok; I also liked how she handled her “identity crisis” unlike the other character’s in the book. The Whittman’s have a lot of secrets and being Black is a huge one-they (other than Arturo) did not want anyone to know about their secret, Boy who at this point hate’s Snow because Snow is seen as the epitome of good does not realize she is going through her own crisis and just stays in her own imagination.
The book has so much information and detail and I really want to write about every single character, but I’ll keep it short:
- Boy- Her name is so masculine and as hard as she tries to be manipulative and strong -she is very fragile. The reason she hates Snow, is because of the way people treat her, love her, and reading about Boy’s unconventional upbringing I can understand why she would feel that way. I also think she does not hate Snow, but she hates the idea of Snow and what she represents.
- Bird- Her name is so powerful, a bird has this freeing image, but Bird is a Black girl who skin color is not something to be proud of and because of her existence, secrets begin to unravel. I loved her character, especially when she decided to communicate via letter with Snow, who has been gone her whole life. Her obsessions with mirrors and not being able to see herself sometimes is basically a metaphor for Life. Not knowing who you are, where you come from, or even where you’re going- her views on mirrors, of being this unwanted thing is so moving.
- Snow- Her name is pure, white something to be happy about, and unashamed. She is a main character in the book, but you never get her side of the story. It’s always about others perceive her. If I could compare her to something it would be two paintings in a museum. She’s an object that people gawk at and define. Even though, Bird does not believe Snow understands her mirror concept, I believe she does. Snow is someone who doesn’t really understand her identity, she has this privilege, but she doesn’t want it because it’s not who she really is (does that make sense).
By the end of the book everything and everyone seems to have a better understanding of themselves. I liked that Boy admitted that she didn’t like snow because of Olivia, Snow admitted that she always felt detached and like an object, Bird is still Bird. Olivia actually came around and I think she always loved Bird is just Bird reminds her of her true identity and her dirty little secret. Oh, SPOILER- THE RAT CATCHER IS A WOMAN-BOY’S DAD IS HER MOM! Which now makes sense if you read the book because I always saw her as an overly protective abusive mom. I feel like this helped Boy come to terms with her own identity. I really want to tell you her side of the story, but I think you should read it for yourself.
Rated: 8.5/10 (because of the side stories)