Title: Boy, Snow, Bird
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Genre: literary fiction
Length: ~300 pages
Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL
Plot Basics: Enigmatic Boy Novak marries into the prestigious Whitman family. She becomes the stepmother to the hauntingly beautiful Snow, daughter of her her husband Arturo. But when Boy and Arturo’s daughter, Bird, is born with dark skin, the truth about the Whitmans is revealed. They are light-skinned African Americans passing as white in the 1950s. Boy, Snow and Bird must come to grips with the notions of beauty and hiding.
Banter Points: This was my May book club pick. I tend not to Book Banter those, but this one was so interesting I had to. I’m writing before book club because I suspect that the discussion there will change my mind.
So Helen Oyeyemi writes gorgeous prose. I know the critics are raving about her latest and if it’s at all like this one is, no wonder. I sank into her prose, her choice of words so deliberate.
Bummer Points: I didn’t really feel like I got this book on my own (hence why I’m writing that before book club.) I think there’s a bunch in it about beauty and perception, all through the mirror motif. But the ending? WHAT?
I hate feeling stupid as a reader. I didn’t feel at the end like I really got the point Oyeyemi was trying to make.
I think part of my problem was that this is supposed to be a retelling of Snow White. And it is, but I kept reading for the recognizable plot points… the dwarfs, the poison apple, the kiss, etc. to the point that I lost the point in looking for the plot. The gals in books club also reported feeling like they missed something too, so it was nice that it wasn’t just me.
Word Nerd Recommendation: It’s worth a read, but don’t be surprised if it somehow leaves you feeling lacking at the end.