Boy, Snow, BirdBook - 2014
"Helen Oyeyemi has fully transformed from a literary prodigy into a powerful, distinctive storyteller...Transfixing and surprising."-- Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)
"I don't care what the magic mirror says; Oyeyemi is the cleverest in the land...daring and unnerving... Under Oyeyemi's spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird ways in which identity can be transmuted in an instant -- from beauty to beast or vice versa." - Ron Charles, The Washington Post
From the prizewinning author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours and 2019's Gingerbread, the brilliant recasting of the Snow White fairy tale as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts looking, she believes, for beauty--the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York. She marries Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving , Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
From Library Staff
LPL_ReadersServices Feb 23, 2017
"A reimagining of the Snow White story recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity set in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s." -Novelist
LPL_KateG Mar 15, 2016
Oyeyemi is a captivating writer. She's spooky without being over-the-top frightening, and her imagery really sticks with you. I did not read this as a retelling of Snow White, and therefore really enjoyed it. (In other words, if you're specifically seeking a retelling, this might not be the one.)
In the 1950s, Boy Novak washes up in a New England town where she marries and gives birth to Bird, who is born noticeably darker than her step-sister, the enchanting Snow Whitman. Boy discovers her husband's family are passing for white, a revelation that shatters them all.
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We live in a little suburb called Twelve Bridges....People don't make too much money around here, but what comes with that is a different definition of what it means to be well-off. You're chairman of the board if you need twelve dollars a week and you make twelve dollars a week. If you've also got someone within ten minutes' walk who can make you laugh and someone else within a five-minute walk who can help you mourn, you're a millionaire. If on top all that you've got a buddy or three who'll feed you delicious things and paint you pictures and dance with you, and another friend who'll watch your kids so you can go out dancing...that's the billionaire lifestyle.
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