[Swift Reviews] ‘The Meaning of Birds’ by Jaye Robin Brown (ARC)

“Oh god. Stork rhymes with dork. Which I am. Because there’s no way you wanted all that trivia. Sorry, I’m ridiculously into birds. It’s a sickness.”

The Meaning of Birds

Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.

 Title: The Meaning of Birds

 Release: 30th May [UK]; 16th April [US]

 Genre: Contemporary

 Author: Jaye Robin Brown

 Rating: 4 stars

I received a proof copy in exchange for an honest review ❤

me [before reading]: you betcha I’m ready for some soft sapphic goodness!!

me [after reading]: oh my god my emotions holy shit this book was not as fluffy as expected where are the fucking tissues 

I really loved this book! It was beautifully drawn look at grief, filled with a great cast. Greer and Eliza (an older lesbian couple who come in partway through the book) were my absolute favourites. I especially liked the feature of blacksmithing, because I love when alternate art forms are utilised in books.

The book follows two narratives: “before” and “after”. Checking the chapter headings is crucial as you are switched back and forth a bit. Jess and Vivi had a really lovely, and what I thought very realistic, relationship.

The only bit I didn’t like was the treatment of Jess’s best friend at points; she’s aromantic and I felt sometimes she was … teased a little for not being into romance? (There’s a bit where she’s going out with a guy and some characters were like “so, a date” and she insisted it “wasn’t a date”, and the other characters were like “it’s so a date” but no seriously if she says it’s not a date, it’s not a date end of). And people can think they’re being funny and it’s a joke but trust me, from personal experience it doesn’t always feel that way.

Also for those who’re worried about the “bury your gays” trope (as I was); this book doesn’t really utilise it, in my opinion. Vivi was never a flat character there simply to be queer and to further the plot, or anything. She was a significant part of the novel (as half of it is set during the past), and the entire novel is full of other queer characters so it’s very far off the situation of “the only gay character in this novel has been killed off for plot development”, etc.

TL;DR: Definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of the authors’ prior work, and are looking for a fufilling contemporary with a bit of emotional depth. 

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