Rating: High Five
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of Mayday, Lost in the Sun, the Thing About Jellyfish, and other compelling realistic fiction books surrounding a tween's struggles with death.
Favorite Quote: "Be light like a bird, and not like a feather."
Synopsis (from Amazon): After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she's ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don't deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigans Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.
BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD is honestly like nothing I've seen before. For a realistic fiction book, it has a surprisingly fast-paced plotline, one that pulled me right into the main character's - Wren's - story. This book is fantastic for nature-lovers (like me), as well, because much of the story is focused around Wren's passion for bird-watching, which stemmed from her deceased Dad's similar interest. She eventually bonds with a boy named Theo over this pass-time - which was such an amazing friendship to watch bloom. Wren deals with very realistic, difficult problems throughout the story, including getting peer pressured and having to deal with a mother who isn't being a very responsible in this time of grief. This was all extremely well executed, although a few of the "big ideas" of this book were a little on the nose. The other array of characters that accumulated along the way were also great; I especially liked Randle, a Buddhist/Chippewa Indian who owns a junkyard for cars.
The ending was also perfect: heartwarming, bittersweet, satisfying, and with a huge twist the completely turns the entire story around. Overall, a wonderful, inventive realistic fiction story that I'd recommend to any kid, especially ones aged 12.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.