Birdwing

Mar. 23rd, 2011 10:14 pm
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
[personal profile] booksofafeather
Short review: A story that continues the traditional fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm, The Six Swans, following the life of the youngest brother in the story who is left with a swan's wing, after being released from a curse that turned him to a swan. Because it's based on that story and can't change from it, in the beginning, the swan curse is seen as a horrible thing. But then, the story tells that the youngest brother's swan wing was "on the left side - the side closest to the heart". And this is where the tale really begins, as next we are plunging into a world of joyful flight, and pain, and spiritual wonder. This book is very descriptive which is both a blessing and a curse... it's lovely that it goes into such details about what it is like to be part-bird, and what it is like to be a swan, but because it feels so real this book can be painful to read. But, if you can handle that, I very much recommend it.

Writing: The writing is absolutely beautiful... I said about Gwinna that the descriptions of flying are the most detailed you would see, but about being a bird-person, the writing in this is even more descriptive and has equal poetry. It's a very serious story mostly but even then there are little funny moments, clever-funny though and not cheesy funny as a lot of these books... I actually laughed out loud in parts. At the ending, it starts to get a little slow and drawn out but the very end is worth it.

From a winged person's perspective...: Where do I start?? Usually, what is a good guide of how good the book is on this matter, is how long my notes are. For this book they were two pages long. I think that's the longest I ever had. I would describe all the little details, and I really want to, but that would just spoil it... but, for a character with only one wing, he's more well described than ten two-winged people in other books. The book always notices the wing in an extremely realistic way. His connection to swans is painful and beautiful. So much thought has been put into the whole thing. There are moments where he hates and curses the swan side of himself but you always see the beauty too in ways that make up for that. If you can put up with it not being 100% positive about him, but more like 70%, then you will love this book.

Trigger warnings: Threats of cutting off wings and actual cutting off wings, cruel murder of animals, abuse of birds, use of words like "freak" and "thing" by the main character towards himself and by others towards him. Lots of detailed description of the longing for flying and the longing to belong.


More thoughts...: When I get a new book, I always look at the dedication page. Often in these books there is some dedication that gives a hint of the author's feeling when they wrote the book. The dedication for Birdwing is "For the wing we each have." Before I read the book, I thought that's a little human-centric... some of us have more than one, thank you! But by the end of the book I understood what it was talking about. If you get to the end of the book and you find yourself thinking very differently about the beginning... that's a sign the story changed something in you. And the sign of a good story I think.

Reading a little further, I was excited about this book, because it was a swan story. I don't see a book about swan-people every day. (That's my species, if you didn't know.) Some people might think now that I have a bias for this book because it talks about something so close to my heart. That's true... but I think that also, I judged it more harshly because of that. Something that is so close to my heart is very able to hurt me and let me down and I feel every emotional bump. So I think in the end, it balanced out.

This book was absolutely a very emotional book for me. I ended up reading it five minutes at a time... I kept having to put it down. Many times I felt almost sick to my stomach, not because it was bad, but just because it stirred such emotions in me and made me live through them. You need to be warned that this is a very triggery book... if you feel any connection to this subject, it will make your heart ache and maybe worse. If right now you are struggling with thoughts of longing to fly, this is definitely not the comforting book you want to read (try Gwinna instead), and if you have ever felt these feelings at all in your life, it may still hurt to live through the memories. If you have feelings of being rejected or lonely it will hurt those too, in deep ways. So if you are in those sensitive situations, or even if you aren't, please be careful.

Oh, I want to say so much more about this book. But it would just spoil it to give away all the beautiful details you should see for yourself. There are so many turns of phrase that make me feel warm inside and so many that hurt. Reading this book, you should expect to be hurt. It's not a "safe" book... but it is beautiful, and even though there are some imperfect parts, I think that the whole story and how well it understands will be worth it. If you have ever felt a flock of birds migrating overhead that felt like it was calling you to join them... until your heart broke... then your heart will break again reading this, but you will feel understood at the same time. I have to give this book five stars, because of that. It is five stars with caution, but I still recommend it.

I have many quotes from this book saved, but I'm just going to put one to finish this review, to give you a feel of the story....

Your wing is a mark of wonder. Don't shrug it off. Children see truly.
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