I recently read Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman and I think it’s safe to say it is in my top 3 favorite books of the year. It was just so. good.
I haven’t done a book review in a pretty long time, so I thought this was way overdue.
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.
This book is just simply beautiful. There’s really no other way to describe it.
I felt so connected to Rumi and I wanted to just give her a hug and tell her that everything was going to be okay. Akemi’s writing is honestly a masterpiece. She knows how to hit you in all the right places, and I definitely cried from this one.
It’s a character driven story, so if you’re looking for action and excitement, you’re not going to get that here. Character driven novels are my favorite though because you truly connect and understand all of the people in the story. They are the books that most often make me feel something. That’s exactly how I felt with Rumi. She taught me so much about love and grief and just being a better person. I want to be her friend.
It delves really deep into grief and dealing with loss in such a raw way. I felt like I was reading poetry, not prose, because the writing was just so lyrical. It flowed so nicely, and each chapter connected really well.
Aside from Rumi, all of the other characters were so well written. Each one was so unique and important to the story. I really fell in love with all of them, and they are each so dear to me. You watched as they struggled, too because they wanted to help Rumi but didn’t know how, and it was almost painful. I don’t have too much experience with death, but Rumi helped me to understand grief much better.
Also, it has such great representation- Throughout the novel (on top of dealing with the death of her sister), Rumi is also discovering her sexuality, and she ultimately identifies as aro/ace.
The whole story was heartbreaking but so beautifully done, and nothing comes close to this one to me.
I don’t think I will ever forget this book. I loved the story so much, and I’m going to hold it very close to my heart.
5/5 stars (duh!)
Please leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read this book or not! I would love to hear your thoughts :)
And if you haven’t, you should definitely pick it up!