“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.
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue. She is also a Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in Scotland with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.
“A strikingly moving book about teenage grief.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A stunning story filled with the healing power of friendship, family, and music. . . . The language is extraordinary.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Achingly beautiful and exquisitely crafted, Summer Bird Blue is an emotionally raw and utterly honest story about loss, about hope, and about finding the courage to sing your own song. Akemi Dawn Bowman's writing is lyrical and full of life. I was riveted from the first page.” —Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters
"Summer Bird Blue is a quiet but powerful exploration of music and love, and their ability to heal grief over time. Like my favorite sad songs, this book settled deep into my heart and refused to let go." —Brandy Colbert, author of Little & Lion and Finding Yvonne
“Summer Bird Blue brings us the gift of Rumi, unflinchingly honest in herself, her music and the ways she loves and doesn’t. I got (sobbingly) lost in the rhythms of this beautiful exploration of what it means to grieve when you haven’t figured out who you are or your place in the world. With a Hawaiian setting so vividly alive that it becomes essential to Rumi’s healing, this is a gut-wrenching, must-read novel.” —S.K. Ali, award-winning author of Saints and Misfits
"A beautifully complex exploration of grief, guilt, and the healing power of art and friendship. Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Summer Bird Blue will make your heart ache and leave your soul hopeful.” —Ashley Herring Blake, author of Suffer Love and Girl Made of Stars
PRAISE FOR STARFISH
A 2018 William C. Morris Award Finalist A New York Public Library 2017 Best Book for Teens A Junior Library Guild Selection
“An empowering novel that will speak to many mixed-race teens.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers living with anxiety or depression will immediately identify with Kiko. . . . a deep and engaging story that will not only entertain but also may encourage readers to live their best lives.” —School Library Journal
“Vividly captures the identity struggles of a biracial young adult searching to find her place in two worlds.” —BCCB
“Bowman gives a powerful voice to silenced victims of sexual abuse through Kiko, whose transformation from meek and afraid into powerful and strong is incredibly moving.” —VOYA
“One of the most compelling reads of the year.” —Paste Magazine
“This book is a gem.” —BookRiot
“A vibrant, complex and heartfelt story about finding your place in a sharp-edged world that never makes it easy.” —Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Conviction and Picture Us in the Light
“Akemi Dawn Bowman’s quietly dazzling debut novel gave me the sensation of looking into a mirror. This story is a knockout, at once an incisive portrait of family dysfunction, a nuanced depiction of Asian-American adolescence, and an artist's vibrant coming-of-age—a story so specific as to be universal. Brimming with confessional intimacy and the furious strength of empowerment, Starfish feels like the ache of being lost and the relief of finding home.” —Riley Redgate, author of Seven Ways We Lie and Noteworthy