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Boy, Snow, Bird

Oyeyemi, Helen

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Boy, Snow, Bird
"From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast 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 a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. 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. Among them, 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."-- "A reimagining of the Snow White story set in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s"--
Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA),, 2014
ISBN: 9781594631399
Branch Call Number: FIC O
Characteristics: 308 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Comment by: BCD2013 May 06, 2014

Oyeyemi, named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, reimagines the Snow White fairy tale as a story involving African Americans passing as white.

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Nov 19, 2014
  • foxylady31 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Very confusing due to it was hard to know who was narrating the story most of the time--Boy or Bird or Snow. Also the "Boy" section is so full of her unhappiness and guilt .. To my feeling Bird was the strongest of the three. The ending was unrealistic to my taste.

Aug 28, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I'm not even sure if I know where to start with this one. The first mistake that's probably made here is the heavy emphasis in marketing that this is a retelling of Snow White. Bare elements are present but disguised so anyone expecting a modern retelling is probably going to leave disappointed.

Boy (who is a girl) flees from her abusive father and starts up from scratch in a different town in a different state. She eventually marries and becomes step mother to a girl named Snow, who is just pleased to have a mother and Boy enjoys hanging out with her. When Boy gives birth to her own daughter, Bird, who is of a noticeably darker complexion the family is upset that they could now be outed as people of colour when they were passing for white all this time. This takes place in the 50s and 60s by the way.

I feel like the book tries to take on race and identity but there are just too many symbols and not enough punch to make any of it stick. The writing to me seems delicate. There's obvious lots of time and care put into the words on the page but if you're not careful with your reading you could shatter it. I am curious to read anything else by the author, I will say that.

The ending revelation also seems a bit hurried and tacked on to me. It sort of explains some bits of the plot, and also a few of the magical realism bits, but it just doesn't seem to belong there anyway.

Interesting read, glad I read it, but probably not something I plan to revisit.

Aug 09, 2014
  • Theresa M Lotz rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I. Couldn't make heads or tails of this story. It was all over the place. Very confusing

Jul 30, 2014
  • BookluvrShPk rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Interesting read. Storyline seemed disjointed and sometimes confusing. Had to re-read sections to figure out what perspective was being addressed.

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "Great book! Intriguing and well-spun storyline. Definitely shows that the author has lots of creativity and imagination."

May 14, 2014
  • gvlee rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Supposedly a twist on Snow White, this tale has almost no bearing on the fairy tale. This story is about Boy, a white woman who sends away her beautiful white looking stepdaughter, when Boy's own baby is born looking black. The story is told incoherently and the few references to the Snow White fairy tale just confuse matters. The "ending" is deeply unsatisfying and there is no resolution to the story. I strongly do not recommend this book.

May 10, 2014
  • shannon40 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Great writing. Illogical plot (if you can even call it a plot). There is a story waiting to be told about the culture of light-skinned African-Americans during the 1930-1960 period. This isn't it.

Oyeyemi, named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, reimagines the Snow White fairy tale as a story involving African Americans passing as white.

Apr 19, 2014
  • kninchicago rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The title of this book is the names of the three women featured in this novel. Boy Novak runs away from her abusive father to live in Connecticut, where she marries a man with a beautiful stepdaughter named Snow. Boy becomes pregnant and when she gives birth, it’s clear from her daughter Bird’s appearance that her husband is actually a black man and passing for white. Using elements of mysticism and fairy tale, Oyeyemi explores race relations in 1950s New England with touching results.


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Oct 02, 2014
  • baretta rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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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