Book Reviews

Book Review: SUMMER BIRD BLUE by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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As with Starfish, I was completely blown away by Summer Bird Blue! Before I dive into the review, here’s a quick look at the summary:

“Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.”

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I was given an arc of Summer Bird Blue in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

Summer Bird Blue was everything I wanted and more. Having thoroughly enjoyed Starfish, I had high expectations coming into Summer Bird Blue and I definitely think my expectations were met and surpassed.

Summer Bird Blue was one of the most wonderfully written character driven stories that I’ve read in a while. Rumi’s character arc was well defined and had me hooked throughout the course of the story. Rumi struggles with the aftermath of death, and the grief and guilt of losing a loved one. These topics could potentially be triggering to some readers. I think Summer Bird Blue handled these heavy topics which such realness. The topics were allowed to be heavy, and Rumi was able to sit in those feelings before eventually working to find her way through those topics and the emotions connected to them.

Another thing that’s awesome about Summer Bird Blue is that Rumi’s sexual orientation is questioning throughout the novel, and it seems that she becomes comfortable identifying with the definition of asexuality though not necessarily the label itself. So if you’re looking for questioning rep, definitely check out Summer Bird Blue.

The family of dynamics of Summer Bird Blue were amazing. They rooted the story, and were well crafted and complicated. If you’re a fan of messy family dynamics, Summer Bird Blue is for you. The setting of Hawaii was so immersive that I felt like I was on the island with Rumi. Some of this is due to the fact that the Hawaiian natives speak in the dialect, which is written out in the dialogue. I really really appreciated this stylistic choice. The side characters, including Kai, Aunty Ani, and Mr. Watanabe, are all as fleshed out as Rumi’s character, and each added something unique to the story.

In addition, if you’re a fan of musician protagonists in YA then Summer Bird Blue is also definitely for you. Music is a big theme in the novel as it connected Rumi to her sister, Lena.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Bird Blue. I can’t wait for it to be released into the world next Tuesday!

As always,

Happy reading, happy writing, and happy blogging!



4 thoughts on “Book Review: SUMMER BIRD BLUE by Akemi Dawn Bowman

  1. I’ve wanted to read Starfish for awhile but I haven’t had the chance to :((( now i have yet another book on my tbr! i loved reading your review 🙂


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