“A lyrical novel about grief, love, and finding oneself in the wake of a tragic loss.” —Bustle
“Gorgeous prose and heartbreaking storytelling.” —Paste Magazine
“Grabs your heart and won’t let go.” —Book Riot
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Three starred reviews for this stunning novel about a mixed-race teen who struggles to find her way back to her love of music in the wake of her sister’s death, from the author of the William C. Morris Award finalist Starfish.
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.
Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.
Bowman (Starfish) writes about a mixed-race young woman finding her voice through the arts in an emotionally taut story that explores the nuances of sisterly love. After surviving a car accident that kills her younger sister, Lea, 17-year-old Rumi is sent to live with her aunt Ani in Kailua, Hawaii, while her mother stays behind in Washington State. At first, Rumi can barely function: she isn't eating, she isn't really speaking, and she has lost all interest in the music she once loved to write. Ani's neighbors prickly old Mr. Watanabe, who is grieving over the deaths of his wife and son years earlier, and recent high school graduate Kai capture Rumi's interest. Through these growing relationships, she slowly finds her footing, as well as her desire to create new music. Rumi's pain infuses the narrative, allowing readers a peek into her psyche through both present-day regrets ("I failed as a sister and a daughter") and sections revealing relevant memories of Lea ("She's always had it so much easier than me, and it's not fair"). Ages 12 up.)