Crystal Chan

Book - 2014

Twelve-year-old Jewel was born on the day her brother Bird died and lives in a house of silence and secrets, but a new boy in her Iowa town may help find the answers Jewel wants despite her Jamaican grandfather's warning that he is a "duppy," a malevolent spirit.

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New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers [2014]
First edition
Physical Description
295 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Crystal Chan (-)
Review by Booklist Review

In my house we wield silence like shields and swords: We use it to push people away or injure them. Ever since 12-year-old Jewel's brother died by jumping off a cliff on the day she was born, her grandfather hasn't uttered a word. He's the one who gave his grandson, John, the nickname Bird and told him that, one day, Bird would fly. Jewel's Jamaican grandpa and her dad believe in duppies, or harmful spirits, and think grandpa's nickname attracted one. Now, Jewel is living in a house of fear, silence, and guilt. Jewel returns to the cliff where her brother died in order to connect with him and feels the place, unlike her family, speaks to her. When she meets a boy in town for the summer, she, a geology lover, and he, obsessed with space exploration, become friends. But this boy has secrets of his own, and, eventually, someone is going to have to talk. This is a slow read ­thoughtful and introspective about the dynamics of a grieving family and contemplative readers will be rewarded by Jewel's journey.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

On the day Jewel was born, her five-year-old brother, Bird, threw himself off a cliff in an attempt to fly. In the 12 years that have passed since his death, the family hasn't recovered: Jewel's grandfather hasn't spoken for years; her mother is depressed; and Jewel fears that no one will love her as much as her family loved Bird. But then she meets and befriends a boy named John, and has a chance to change her life for the better. In this audio edition, Stenberg turns in a fun, spirited performance. Her narration is smooth and well paced. And, most importantly, Sternberg ably captures the essence of Jewel, her voice full of youthful pluck and a hint of sadness. Although the narrator doesn't lend the characters particularly unique voices, listeners will have little trouble differentiating who is speaking to whom. Ages 8-12. An Athenaeum hardcover. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Jewel Campbell was born the same day her five-year-old brother, John, jumped off a cliff, mistakenly believing he could fly. After John's death, Grandpa, who had nicknamed John "Bird," stops talking since he thinks his nickname may have led to the accident. Dad, a Jamaican immigrant, becomes more superstitious than ever, believing a spirit or "duppy" tricked John into jumping, and Mom becomes a hollow shadow of her former self. Jewel is overwhelmed by her family's grief, and she has no one to turn to until a mysterious new boy shows up in town one summer afternoon. This thoughtful story is beautifully narrated by Amandla Stenberg. She perfectly expresses Jewel's constantly changing emotions, and her narration truly makes this introspective character come to life. Overall, this is a thoughtful story of one family's struggle to overcome devastating grief and find new meaning in their relationships with one another.-Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Glen Rock, PA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

A mixed-race kid in small-town Iowa, Jewel has always felt like an outsider. Compounding her loneliness is the fact that her brother, Bird, died jumping off a cliff the day she was born. Jewel's family blames the supernatural; Jewel, now twelve, turns to geology for emotional comfort. Chan's debut offers a thoughtful exploration of loss, family, and different approaches to grief and recovery. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Jewel Campbell's life began the day her older brother John's tragically ended, a coincidence that's shaped and shadowed her family since. Her Jamaican-immigrant grandfather nicknamed John "Bird," encouraging him to imagine he could fly with disastrous results. He hasn't said a word since and, along with Jewel's dad, blames the catastrophe on evil spirits from Jamaica, duppies. Both have gone to great lengths to repel future supernatural harm (Jewel's white-Mexican mom retains some skepticism). Largely ignored, Jewel is equally in thrall to the family narrative. After the family visits Bird's grave on her 12th birthday, she steals out to climb a tree in a neighbor's field and meets a boy who tells her his name is John. Like Jewel, whose passion is geology, he's a budding scientist with a complex heritage--African-American, adopted by white parents. They exchange secrets. Both feel out of place, moved by forces beyond their control, like the erratic granite boulder Jewel climbs. Jewel's observant reflections on her rural-Iowa world give this debut its considerable charm. As brutal antagonism intensifies among the adults, the focus shifts to characters and events before Jewel's birth, making Jewel less actor than bystander in her own story. For young readers especially, the resolution is uncomfortably vague. Though it loses momentum halfway through, the strong opening bodes well for future endeavors. (Fiction. 10-14)]]]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.