This week's front stoop find is from Riverhead Books. Boy, Snow, Bird is Helen Oyeyemi's 5th novel, and it grabbed me from word one.
I usually get advanced reading copies, read the first paragraph to gauge where in the reading pile they go. (If they're particularly good, they'll get tucked in after my current read). Never have I picked up an arc, read the first paragraph and kept reading - until now.
Oyeyemi's language is beautiful without being overly poetic, brutally honest without brutalizing the reader, and overall a pleasure to read.
Her first sentence reads, "Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy." As you read on, this sentence finds deeper and deeper meaning.
Boy, Snow, Bird is a reinvention of the Snow White fairy tale, but to leave it at that does the story some serious injustice. Oyeyemi writes so well that often times we forget there is a thread of fairy tale woven through her tale. She speaks of race and gender identity, of abuse and depression and does so so beautifully that we can't look away (nor do we want to). Not one to let us forget the fairy tale influence, she brings us back, again and again with not-so-subtle reminders, as we collectively recollect the fairy tale from childhood, while entrenched in the story at hand.
The book's title, Boy, Snow, Bird is actually the name of the three central characters.
From the product description:
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.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, 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 is already one of the most anticipated books of 2014, making the top book lists for CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage, Time.com, The Chicago Tribune, Vulture, The Millions and Flavorwire.
It's garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
The book is being released March 6, 2014. Go ahead and pre-order it. I don't think you'll be sorry you did.
Labels: ARC, Boy Snow Bird, Helen Oyeyemi, In the Post, March 2014