Birdie and me

J. M. M. Nuanez

Book - 2020

"Ever since their free-spirited mama died ten months ago, twelve-year-old Jack and her gender creative nine-year-old brother, Birdie, have been living with their fun-loving Uncle Carl, but now their conservative Uncle Patrick insists on being their guardian which forces all four of them to confront grief, prejudice, and loss, all while exploring what 'home' really means"--

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jFICTION/Nuanez, J. M. M.
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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jFICTION/Nuanez, J. M. M. Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : Kathy Dawson Books [2020]
Language
English
Physical Description
252 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780399186776
0399186778
Main Author
J. M. M. Nuanez (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Since their mother's recent death, Jack and her little brother, Birdie, have been living with their hapless uncle Carl, until his truancy leads to guardianship being transferred to their aloof uncle Patrick. Now, in Patrick's house in their mother's former hometown, Jack and Birdie must cope with her death, while building a new life—and a new family—among a seemingly resentful guardian and townspeople who aren't all tolerant of Birdie's gender nonconformity. Nuanez's debut tells an endearing story of family in the wake of tragedy, anchored by the wonderfully loving and supportive relationship between Jack and Birdie. Told through Jack's first-person point of view and intercut by pages from her observation journal that provide the occasional poetic flourish, the prose flows seamlessly and the dialogue feels undeniably real. In a book less concerned with plot, it's this veracity of character, along with Jack's accepting perspective, that will make it easy for readers to relate to Birdie as he explores identity and gender creativity—his preference for traditionally feminine clothing and cosmetics—on the page. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Nuanez's debut follows a long tradition of middle grade novels about children virtually on their own, navigating a world of imperfect adults. The children in question are narrator Jack, 12, and her brother Birdie, nine, a gender-creative, fashionably precocious kid whose Alexander McQueen–inspired style is underappreciated—to say the least—in the tiny town of Moser, Calif. That's where the siblings end up, bouncing between their late mother's much older brothers after she dies in a somewhat mysterious car accident. Carl, affirming but unreliable, forgets to send them to school regularly, so they move in with responsible but stoic Patrick, who defends and respects Birdie in his own way despite his stern demeanor. Nuanez slowly unspools the circumstances surrounding Jack and Birdie's mother's death, working up to a revelation that feels both surprising and inevitable, and resists simplistic characterizations, slowly divulging both uncles' strengths and weaknesses with a well-paced, deceptively subdued plot. Sure-handed storytelling and choice details revealed through Jack's observation notebook mark a strong middle grade debut. Ages 10–up. Agent: Susan Hawk, the Bent Agency. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–7—When their mama died in a car accident, Jack and her younger brother, Birdie, moved in with their kind, if irresponsible, Uncle Carl. But after 10 months of convenience store food and sporadic school attendance, Carl's estranged brother, Patrick, must take them in. Emotionally distant Patrick, whom Birdie calls "a clam," may cook them proper meals, but he does not understand Birdie's gender creative identity and interest in fashion, or the children's complicated feelings about their erratic mother, her mental illness, and her death. In short notebook entries scattered throughout the novel, Jack observes the adults governing her life and the grief that animates them. Nuanez excels in depicting a complex family dynamic filtered through a child's perception. More than anything else, this novel captures the children's feelings of powerlessness when decisions about where they live, what they wear, and who they can even visit are made by imperfect adult guardians. Also addressed are gender nonconformity, bullying, and adults' misguided solutions to both, in a refreshingly frank and thoughtful way that always centers the children's perspectives and understanding of themselves. As Jack, Birdie, and their uncles stumble toward mutual understanding, they build a community of supportive people—imperfect, unsure, but trying their best. VERDICT This singular story of a grieving and unconventional family belongs alongside Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting by 7s, Cindy Baldwin's Where the Watermelons Grow, and Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish. Highly recommended.—Molly Saunders, Manatee County Public Libraries, Bradenton, FL Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Ever since their free-spirited mama died ten months ago, twelve-year-old Jack and her gender creative nine-year-old brother, Birdie, have been living with their fun-loving Uncle Carl, but now their conservative Uncle Patrick insists on being their guardian which forces all four of them to confront grief, prejudice, and loss, all while exploring what 'home' really means"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Losing their home when their mama dies, a girl named Jack and her gender-diverse little brother, Birdie, find unexpected healing and transformative family love in the homes of their eccentric uncles. A first novel. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

* "Belongs alongside Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting by 7s, Cindy Baldwin's Where the Watermelons Grow, and Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish. Highly recommended."--School Library Journal, starred reviewAn emotional and uplifting debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves. After their mama dies, Jack and Birdie find themselves without a place to call home. And when Mama's two brothers each try to provide one--first sweet Uncle Carl, then gruff Uncle Patrick--the results are funny, tender, and tragic. They're also somehow . . . spectacular. With voices and characters that soar off the page, J. M. M. Nuanez's debut novel depicts an unlikely family caught in a situation none of them would have chosen, and the beautiful ways in which they finally come to understand one another. Perfect for fans of The Thing about Jellyfish and Counting By Sevens."A luminous debut."--Ashley Herring Blake, author of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Stonewall Honor book