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Summer Bird Blue

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Summer Bird Blue

  1. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    4.5 stars okay. I cried. and I rarely cry over any book Akemi always writes the most beautiful, personal, meaningful, hard-hitting stories and this is just another one of them. this one in particular means a lot to me because I have a younger sister and seeing Rumi go through the loss of her sister made me so emotional this is truly truly beautiful and I can’t wait for all of you to read it 💙💙 (note: Rumi is mainly questioning throughout the book. at the end, she figures that she would likely identi 4.5 stars okay. I cried. and I rarely cry over any book Akemi always writes the most beautiful, personal, meaningful, hard-hitting stories and this is just another one of them. this one in particular means a lot to me because I have a younger sister and seeing Rumi go through the loss of her sister made me so emotional this is truly truly beautiful and I can’t wait for all of you to read it 💙💙 (note: Rumi is mainly questioning throughout the book. at the end, she figures that she would likely identify as asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum!) // buddy read with this absolute ANGEL

  2. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    Wow, I am so glad to finally be posting this review! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC pretty far in advance and devoured it immediately, because I loved Starfish so much, but I gotta tell you guys, this book? It blows Starfish out of the water. This was one of the most heartbreaking, gorgeous stories I have ever read, and there is so much diversity I could honestly yell about it forever. “I don’t want to hold hands, or flirt, or… kiss. And I don’t feel like I’m somehow less whole because I Wow, I am so glad to finally be posting this review! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC pretty far in advance and devoured it immediately, because I loved Starfish so much, but I gotta tell you guys, this book? It blows Starfish out of the water. This was one of the most heartbreaking, gorgeous stories I have ever read, and there is so much diversity I could honestly yell about it forever. “I don’t want to hold hands, or flirt, or… kiss. And I don’t feel like I’m somehow less whole because I don’t want to date.” First, let’s go ahead and talk about the diverse representations in this book: Rumi, the narrator, is not only multiracial (Japanese, Hawaiian, and white), but she’s also questioning for the bulk of the book before tentatively coming out as both asexual and aromantic. Among the side characters, everyone is either Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, Filipino, black, or some combination of the above. The Hawaiian locals also primarily speak Hawaiian pidgin English, which added an incredible touch, especially after having learned that Akemi Dawn Bowman learned to speak it from her own father. I don’t think I’ll ever find another person in the entire world who understands me the way Lea does. We’re the only two people in the universe who speak our language. Second, you need to know that this is a book almost solely dedicated to processing grief and the loss of a loved one. If you cry at books ever, you should probably have tissues on hand. I was literally sobbing through so many chapters. I don’t have a sibling and don’t know what losing one feels like, but Rumi’s pain is so tangible. As a mother, my heart also broke so much for Rumi’s mother and the obvious struggles she was going through, especially once she was able to talk to Rumi about what had happened and how it was affecting her mental health. Grief is a monster—not everyone gets out alive, and those who do might only survive in pieces. Another thing Summer Bird Blue does so well is its depiction of how trauma affects our mental health, and how important it is to seek help and to not vilify those who need assistance getting through difficult times. Rumi spends much of the book determined to stay in this dark place she’s been sent to by her sister’s death, but we get to watch her learn that it’s necessary to let people in and accept help in healing. On top of that, these side characters are incredible—they all feel so three-dimensional and wonderful, and I would honestly read companion novels about at least six of them. She’s a shell. A ghost. I think her soul climbed into the coffin with Lea. I wish mine had done the same. One thing that I hope everyone will keep in mind while reading Summer Bird Blue as it releases, is that Rumi does come across as a very coldhearted, callous character for much of the book, but she is human and she is grieving. She has lost not only her sister and best friend in the world, but she feels abandoned by her mother as well, and everything has essentially combined to utterly break her by the time she reaches Hawaii’s shores. Music used to be life and hope and everything happy. Now it’s full of ghosts. I think Rumi’s characterization is a poignant reminder that grief can destroy us all in different ways, but just because we lash out doesn’t mean we are bad people—sometimes it just means we don’t have the proper tools to cope with what has happened to us. The most beautiful aspect of her negative behavior, though, is how it gives the people in her life this opportunity to show how important it is, whenever possible, to stay by her side—they don’t give up on her, but offer her their strength and support as much as they can, no differently than any of us would do for our own loved ones. What if music doesn’t belong to me anymore, the way Lea doesn’t belong to this world? I know I’m rambling, and this review has gone on way too long, but this book just meant so much to me and it is imperative that I express to you how badly I want to see it, and Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing career in general, succeed in every way possible. Please, do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of this book. Pre-order it, ask your library to stock it for you, whatever works—you won’t regret it. All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Simon Pulse for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review! You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook! --- Buddy read with the ever lovable May! 💖

  3. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    It feels a bit too early for a review, soooo! Let's just have a quick list of what to expect: ☆ story about sisters! ☆ and very heavily features the grieving process ☆ not everyone is "nice / likeable" but they're complex and realistic ☆ set in Hawaii! ☆ THE COVER IS GORGEOUS JUST LOOK ☆ asexual rep for the protagonist! (possibly #ownvoices?) ☆ Kai is so chill, he is just the absolute chillest (also lowkey picture him as David from Lilo & Stitch) ☆ Rumi is the "grandpa friend" and this is so funny s It feels a bit too early for a review, soooo! Let's just have a quick list of what to expect: ☆ story about sisters! ☆ and very heavily features the grieving process ☆ not everyone is "nice / likeable" but they're complex and realistic ☆ set in Hawaii! ☆ THE COVER IS GORGEOUS JUST LOOK ☆ asexual rep for the protagonist! (possibly #ownvoices?) ☆ Kai is so chill, he is just the absolute chillest (also lowkey picture him as David from Lilo & Stitch) ☆ Rumi is the "grandpa friend" and this is so funny sometimes ☆ basically entire cast is POC (mostly biracial!) ☆ there is a lot of delicious sounding food omg (quotes from the eARC not to be reused or quoted elsewhere) "Maybe you don't have to know everything about yourself right this second. Maybe you're still figuring it out." I don't think girls should have to smile all the time in order to make other people think they're approachable. Maybe girls don't want to be approachable to everybody. "Your sexuality -- and how you identify -- is nobody else's business. You can change your mind, or not change your mind. Those labels exist for you, and not so that everyone else can try to force you into a box. Especially if that box is their close-minded idea of fucking normal."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alice Oseman

    This is a crucial book on loss. Raw, real, and deeply hopeful, SUMMER BIRD BLUE follows Rumi Seto on her path to healing in idyllic Hawaii with the help of a grumpy old man and a bubbly new friend. This book has solidly secured Akemi as one of my favourite contemporary YA authors - I will read anything Akemi Dawn Bowman writes. The stand-out element of this book for me was the aro-ace representation in Rumi, the likes of which I have never seen before (the only ace rep I've found in contemporary This is a crucial book on loss. Raw, real, and deeply hopeful, SUMMER BIRD BLUE follows Rumi Seto on her path to healing in idyllic Hawaii with the help of a grumpy old man and a bubbly new friend. This book has solidly secured Akemi as one of my favourite contemporary YA authors - I will read anything Akemi Dawn Bowman writes. The stand-out element of this book for me was the aro-ace representation in Rumi, the likes of which I have never seen before (the only ace rep I've found in contemporary YA has tended to be romantic ace, and said character always ends up in a relationship). Much of Rumi's journey in SUMMER BIRD BLUE explores her discovering and accepting her aro-ace identity, and she does NOT end up in a relationship by the end. She made me feel strongly seen in a way I don't think I've ever felt before in a book, and NORMAL too. It didn't feel contrived at all, it felt incredibly normal and valid. I deeply admire and respect Akemi for making this choice, because it would have been SO easy to let Rumi end up in a relationship with Kai. But it makes a far more interesting book because she doesn't! I hope more authors can follow suit in exploring the struggles faced by aro-ace people, and I hope publishers will continue to be more willing to publish books about the intricacies and struggles of lesser-understood queer identities like this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    *3.5/5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura)

    Thank you Simon Pulse for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Akemi Dawn Bowan wrote the most beautiful and heart wrenching book I think I have ever read. When I read the synopsis I immediately requested the book. I hardly ever read contemporary books but something about this one drew me. Probably the best decision of my life. The most amazing story ever written. I felt so many emotions when I read this book. There was sadness, anger, pain and love. A book that manage Thank you Simon Pulse for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Akemi Dawn Bowan wrote the most beautiful and heart wrenching book I think I have ever read. When I read the synopsis I immediately requested the book. I hardly ever read contemporary books but something about this one drew me. Probably the best decision of my life. The most amazing story ever written. I felt so many emotions when I read this book. There was sadness, anger, pain and love. A book that managed to bring all these emotions through the pages. I loved the writing style. It felt so light but also lyrical. I loved the pauses in between the story so we could visit memories from the past. I loved how contrasting the sisters were. I loved how involved the author made me feel in their lives. Learning even the simple things about their personalities. I felt so much of Rumi’s emotions. She was often conflicted and often expressed how she felt through anger. Her emotions were all over the place but I felt the need to understand them. Her development throughout the book was definitely a favorite. She came to realize so many things. So many important things that helped her manage her feelings, understand them, and shape her understanding of herself. Music was such a huge part of who she was. I often felt the struggle when she couldn’t get herself to play an instrument or listen to the music. I especially loved the way she managed to take herself back to it. Even if it took her a long while to figure out how to do that. I adored all the characters in this book. Kai was such a joy to read about. He made everything so laid back. He also helped Rumi come to terms with many things, including her identity. He was always there to support and help her. I loved all the other side characters as well. Mr. Watanabe added so much to the book. He had his own losses and I felt like him and Rumi got along in their own way. I kept looking forward to the chapters that he was in. Her aunt was also so extremely patient with Rumi. She never left her side even with things got harsh. This story was just the most wonderful thing ever. I loved how complex everything felt. I was constantly drawn to the story. It made me cry by the end of it. Heavy tears and that’s probably my favorite part. To have been able to just let go after going through all that. I’m officially on the lookout for any book by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Would recommend this book with all my heart. || Blog || Instagram ||

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sana

    another buddy read with my fave, Maggie because Starfish made us cry and I know for a fact this one will too. Can't wait to have my heart ripped out and stomped on. 😔✊🏼

  8. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    Starfish is one one of the BEST books I've read in 2017 and I could not be more excited to see more from Akemi Dawn Bowman

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    ♦ Video Review ♦ Summer Bird Blue is an intense Contemporary novel that deals with grief in a way I've never seen before. “Because to Lea and me, music wasn't only about sounds. Music was scenery and smells and tastes and magic, too. But it doesn't feel like magic anymore – it feels like I'm being haunted.” Before I get into my thoughts and feelings (there's a lot of them) first something about the representation. The main character, Rumi, is multiracial (Hawaiian, Japanese and white). There's ♦ Video Review ♦ Summer Bird Blue is an intense Contemporary novel that deals with grief in a way I've never seen before. “Because to Lea and me, music wasn't only about sounds. Music was scenery and smells and tastes and magic, too. But it doesn't feel like magic anymore – it feels like I'm being haunted.” Before I get into my thoughts and feelings (there's a lot of them) first something about the representation. The main character, Rumi, is multiracial (Hawaiian, Japanese and white). There's a lot of biracial side and minor characters and many of them speak Hawaii Pidgin English. There's also absolutely amazing questioning rep going on. The way that Rumi described being unsure about her romantic and sexual orientation, about not feeling comfortable with even the idea of labels, about being sure what you feel but becoming insecure about it when everyone tells you that's not how it's supposed to be, about being scared that you settle on a label and then you realize it doesn't quite fit or things have changed.. it blew my mind. And it was so easy to relate to Rumi. She eventually plays with both the asexual and aromantic label and she is definitely a-spec but I don't think she ever quite wants to settle on anything exact. As someone who is not a-spec but has been questioning and struggling with orientation well into my twenties, this is one of the best questioning representation I have EVER seen. Akemi Dawn Bowman absolutely nailed it. “I'm not comfortable with the labels, because labels feel so final. Like I have to make up my mind right this second. Like I have to be sure of myself as everyone else seems to be.” The writing is beautiful and fascinating in every aspect. I have never in my life seen grief described this way. The imagery, the metaphors, the similes, it made the pain and the anger so vivid and relatable. Whether you've ever lost someone so close to you or not, Rumi's pain grabs every little bit of you and does not let go. I would definitely say be careful going into this, if you experienced a loss just recently. It is a tough read as it is! The music aspect spoke to my heart and soul. I am a musician and songwriter myself and while I don't really have a person that connects me to music as Rumi is connected to Lea through it, I still could really relate to so many thoughts about music, about the songwriting process and about how much music can heal but also hurt. The way she feels about music, before and after the accident, is pouring out of the pages. “Because music is a carnival at night, lit up by a thousand stars and bursting with luminescent colors and magical illusions. Music is magic and lightning and fireworks.” I loved that as an adult I could read this novel and understand Rumi's mum while still also 100% understanding where Rumi's anger towards her is coming from and how justified it is. I appreciated that this was a novel where, eventually, the two found their way back together, but I never felt like this novel was trying super hard to excuse her mum's behaviour and make Rumi realize how wrong she was. Everything, every emotion Rumi had about her mother and the way she behaved during the grieving process, was valid, even after they talked and Rumi's mum gave a good explanation. It does not invalidate Rumi's feelings. Hell, it doesn't even invalidate the way Rumi behaved towards her mother. It is all still justified. And I feel like this is just generally something that YA, as it's mostly written by adults, often gets so wrong. It is a genre about the lives and feelings of teens, an adult's "redemption" does not need to be part of that necessarily. If you're an adult and you cannot handle Rumi's behaviour, I seriously think it is time for you to reflect on how you read Young Adult. It's NOT written for you. “My shoulders shake like there's an earthquake in my core. Every inch of me tenses up like I'm bracing for the room to split apart – for the earthquake inside me to be real. I imagine the room exploding to bits, with pieces of drywall and tile flying in every direction and the tremor of the earthquake breaking the building in half.” There's also a plethora of amazing friendships. I always love when a book displays different kinds of friendships and how some friends are the ones you laugh with and others are ones you cry with and some are ones you have adventures with. Sometimes friends are all of those things but I just like when it is recognized in YA that a friendship with a certain person can be especially benefiting for one aspect. The way in which the friendship between Kai and Rumi is written, is super special. It portrays a "friendship crush" so incredibly well. And the way this friendship is taken seriously as a huge, important relationship in someone's life, while being non-romantic and confined to a time and place, really resonated with me. It is so special to read about a friendship like this, especially as Kai has romantic feelings for Rumi. It shows that when two people really mean something to each other, you can still work on that friendship and stay good friends, even with one person having romantic feelings. This certainly doesn't work for everyone and you have to figure things out on the long run but I loved seeing this portrayed as possible! There's also the amazing friendship Rumi has with this older man, Mr. Watanabe. This might have been my favourite relationship in this whole novel. I was so emotionally involved in this development and the way these people were there for each other and meant so much to each other's lives, while barely even acknowledging that. You could feel the impact these two had on each other. This was an incredibly special relationship. “I don't know how something as beautiful and important as music could suddenly feel so empty and cruel. Music used to be life and hope and everything happy. Now it's full of ghosts.” So yeah, this might be one of the longest reviews I have ever written and honestly, I could write even more. But I don't think I have to, you get what I'm trying to say. Overall Summer Bird Blue is an amazing novel, that deals with loss and grief, friendship and family, hurting and healing. It feels like Akemi Dawn Bowman lay her soul bare. This is a remarkable novel. ♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦ Instagram ♦ I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    A wish is a wish after all. Summer Bird Blue is an emotional journey of anger, grief, loss and healing. After unexpectedly losing her sister and best friend Lea, Rumi Seto is angry at the world and doesn’t know how to move on. Moving to Hawaii for the summer wasn’t part of the plan, but she’s determined to find a way to honor Lea’s memory and move on at the same time, so Rumi turns to their shared love of music and discovers a power she didn’t know existed. Things I Liked I loved Rumi. I love A wish is a wish after all. Summer Bird Blue is an emotional journey of anger, grief, loss and healing. After unexpectedly losing her sister and best friend Lea, Rumi Seto is angry at the world and doesn’t know how to move on. Moving to Hawaii for the summer wasn’t part of the plan, but she’s determined to find a way to honor Lea’s memory and move on at the same time, so Rumi turns to their shared love of music and discovers a power she didn’t know existed. Things I Liked I loved Rumi. I loved her anger, I loved her emotions, I loved her fight. She is a force and I respect her and feel for her and I want to shower her with all the support in the world. Rumi’s grief was so physical, I could feel it. It made it so easy to invest and connect with her and everything she was going through. She had quite the journey and emotional arc and I was happy to be along for the ride. I really loved seeing “The Memory” flashbacks of Rumi and Lea’s tumultuous history. It built their sisterly relationship in such an honest and realistic way. It showed their fights, resentments, and devotion. It really built their relationship so Lea was a meaningful presence in the book, even though she dies at the beginning of the story. I don’t know what it is with Akemi Dawn Bowman’s stories, but she writes some of the most unexpected friendships between her protagonists and these grumpy old men/mentor figures that I fall in love with. Rumi and Mr. Watanabe's friendship brought such joy to me that I could never have enough of them listening to music or gardening. In the midst of Rumi’s huge world shift, she’s also questioning her sexuality through much of the story. She’s conflicted about labels and needing to know what she wants right now and is deeply afraid of change. Through the story, Rumi comes to see that she’d probably identify as asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. It’s always amazing to see aro/ace characters in YA because they are severely underrepresented. Things I Didn’t Like I would have loved to see Rumi and Kai, Hannah, Gareth, and the whole crew to see more of each of other and really develop their friend group. Obviously Kai was the most developed, but I still would have liked more from him. I feel like all I know about him is that his dad’s an asshole. I felt like there was parts of the last quarter of the book that felt a little rushed. It was like everything was happening at one time, one top of each other, and no real time for the characters to react. Akemi Dawn Bowman is quickly becoming a go-to-author for me when I want a YA contemporary story that has a big emotional impact. I loved that Rumi was allowed to be angry and grief isn’t always expressed as sadness. I loved seeing that Rumi isn’t a perfect person, and sometimes she’s downright unlikeable, but she’s so real. Summer Bird Blue was a truly captivating story about healing that will play your heartstrings and pull you in. I received a copy of the book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

  11. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    Wow. This book was stunning. It took my heart and shattered it into a million pieces, and then it healed it again. This book was gorgeous and amazing and I'm just completely blown away. I don't even know how to review this book. I don't think I am capable of reviewing this book. Summer Bird Blue is a masterpiece. It's heartbreak, and it's healing. Its beautiful. Really truly beautiful. Akemi Dawn Bowman is an amazing writer. The writing is spectacular! Really really spectacular. And the characters we Wow. This book was stunning. It took my heart and shattered it into a million pieces, and then it healed it again. This book was gorgeous and amazing and I'm just completely blown away. I don't even know how to review this book. I don't think I am capable of reviewing this book. Summer Bird Blue is a masterpiece. It's heartbreak, and it's healing. Its beautiful. Really truly beautiful. Akemi Dawn Bowman is an amazing writer. The writing is spectacular! Really really spectacular. And the characters were so vivid, so real. Oh my god. This book was just... wow. I give up. I'm not giving this a full on review. I'm simply not capable. This book is gorgeous and painful and 100% worth your time. I am in awe. ***Initial Reaction, December 24, 2018*** Wow. This book was gorgeous and stunning and heartbreaking. It was just... so powerful. And beautiful. And painful. Really really painful. RTC. ***Pre-Review, June 23, 3018*** After reading Starfish, this has gone from a book vaguely on my radar, to one of my most anticipated releases. Can I have this now please?

  12. 4 out of 5

    R.F. Kuang

    When I read Akemi Dawn Bowman’s debut novel Starfish, I was blown away by the vivid imagery, the painfully accurate portrayals of mental illness and broken families, and the intense rollercoaster of emotions that had me riveted from start to finish. Bowman’s Summer Bird Blue is even better. Summer Bird Blue is first and foremost novel about grief, loss, and healing. Rumi and Lea Seto are sisters with a beautiful relationship; they laugh, they fight, and they bond through their music. (My own sist When I read Akemi Dawn Bowman’s debut novel Starfish, I was blown away by the vivid imagery, the painfully accurate portrayals of mental illness and broken families, and the intense rollercoaster of emotions that had me riveted from start to finish. Bowman’s Summer Bird Blue is even better. Summer Bird Blue is first and foremost novel about grief, loss, and healing. Rumi and Lea Seto are sisters with a beautiful relationship; they laugh, they fight, and they bond through their music. (My own sister is three years younger than I am, just like Lea and Rumi, so it’s hard not to identify immediately with their bond.) When Lea is killed in a car accident, Rumi is utterly lost; unsure of who she is without her sister, unable to connect with her mother, and unable to move on. Bowman’s portrayal of grief and healing is complicated, thoughtful, and avoids tropes and easy solutions at every possible turn. There’s a cute boy, but his love doesn’t “cure” Rumi, nor does their budding romance turn out the way you think it might. There’s a grouchy old neighbor with a pain of his own, but he offers no magical words of advice to heal Rumi. Rumi’s journey is difficult, messy, and happens inconsistently in spurts and fits rather than proceeding smoothly from bad to good. She’s never completely okay and she might never be. And that’s fine. Summer Bird Blue also centers around uncertain identity. Bowman deals deftly with issues surrounding Japanese culture, diaspora, biraciality, and queerness. Rumi is a biracial, possibly ace/aro girl trying to figure out herself at possibly the worst time in her life. She’s in Hawaii for the first time, reconnecting with her family’s roots. She’s never had a California roll before. (I found it particularly fascinating to read Bowman’s transliteration of Hawaiian pidgin, a dialect which I have never before heard or read on the page.) Rumi is also tentatively exploring her sexual/romantic orientation. She’s not sure if she’s asexual and/or aromantic. She thinks she might be, but she also doesn’t know if she’ll change or mind or if she simply hasn’t found the right label for herself. She doesn’t have all the right answers, and she doesn’t need to. Though the inciting incident of Summer Bird Blue is the death of Rumi’s sister, the novel at its heart is about Rumi’s relationship with her mother. This, too, is complex and realistically contradictory. Rumi’s mother sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii because she needs to recover from her daughter’s death on her own. Rumi takes this as a sign of abandonment. Neither are completely right and neither are completely wrong. Summer Bird Blue draws on a conversation about mother-daughter relationships started in Starfish: that we can crave the attention of those who reject us, and that we can love and seek the love of those who hurt us. You can check out my interview with the author here at Journey to the BEST! https://journey2thebest.wordpress.com...

  13. 5 out of 5

    julianna ➹

    pls be as good as Starfish // canceled buddy read with the brit 💖 bc neither of us could access the file through our computers rip

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is an emotional story of loss, life, and music. When Rumi's sister, Lea, dies in a horrific car accident, Rumi is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Abandoned by her mother, Rumi spends her summer in Hawaii with her aunt, trying to figure out how to live without her sister. Along the way she befriends the neighbors--Kai, the boy next door, and Uncle George, an elderly man who has experienced his own share of losses.  My goodness, what amazing piece of li Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is an emotional story of loss, life, and music. When Rumi's sister, Lea, dies in a horrific car accident, Rumi is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Abandoned by her mother, Rumi spends her summer in Hawaii with her aunt, trying to figure out how to live without her sister. Along the way she befriends the neighbors--Kai, the boy next door, and Uncle George, an elderly man who has experienced his own share of losses.  My goodness, what amazing piece of literature did I just read? This is the second book written by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and I'm simply blown away by how beautifully written her books are. Summer Bird Blue was downright lyrical, tugging at my emotions, and leaving me feeling utterly wrecked at the end. Not every book makes me cry, but both of Akemi Dawn Bowman's books have turned me into a sobbing mess (in the best of ways, of course). Summer Bird Blue is well-paced. You follow Rumi throughout an entire summer. At first there is no light, but through friendship, Rumi learns to write the song she owes her sister, Lea. The entire story is well-executed and laid out with care. The progression from dark to light is gradual, and Rumi's grief is explored in depth. This book is truly a study in grief and an emotional read that sticks with you long after you've read the last page.  I loved the theme of music throughout the book. Music is Rumi's life, so it makes sense that it's front and center in the book. Music has so much power, and that comes through in this story. I adored the book's ending, even though it was tough to read. While it made me cry, I liked how all of the heavy emotions really came to a head. Rumi confronts demons throughout the book, and this continues to the very end. The characters in this book were wonderfully written. I felt like I was in Hawaii as I read the pidgin the author incorporated into the book. I thoroughly enjoyed Rumi's interactions with Kai and Uncle George, two very different characters in Rumi's life. Kai is all easy smiles, patience, and understanding. He helps Rumi learn how to have fun again. Uncle George is delightfully crotchety. He's cranky and abrupt but finds a soft spot for Rumi. Rumi is an intense character--dynamic, complex, and deeply sensitive despite her tough exterior.  I loved this book. If you don't have this book pre-ordered, I highly recommend you do so. Seriously. It was that good! Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    may ❀

    book #9 done for the contemporary-a-thon under the challenge of: read the most recent contemporary book you purchased/acquired. ✔ pros - rumi is an unlikable character, she is brash and blunt and i appreciated how unique her character is - the writing is very easy to read through, it's captivating without being excessively wordy or prose-y - the way the grief was expressed felt AUTHENTIC, it may have even hurt my heart to read sometimes - i love the relationship between rumi and lea :( - it takes p book #9 done for the contemporary-a-thon under the challenge of: read the most recent contemporary book you purchased/acquired. ✔ pros - rumi is an unlikable character, she is brash and blunt and i appreciated how unique her character is - the writing is very easy to read through, it's captivating without being excessively wordy or prose-y - the way the grief was expressed felt AUTHENTIC, it may have even hurt my heart to read sometimes - i love the relationship between rumi and lea :( - it takes place in hawaii and i loved loved loved seeing that glimpse into the hawaiian lifestyle and daily life - the chapters were super fast and short blesssss - the friendship rumi built with her old grumpy neighbour was PRECIOUS, probably my favourite part - the ending was amazing, the way it wrapped up the story and made me all weepy but also hopefully, was really well done cons - yeah rumi is an unlikable character but shes also really insensitive sometimes, she'll insult or just be really awful to people who are just trying to do their best and i know TEENAGERS ARENT PERFECT but she said some really hurtful things and :\ - there are memories/flashbacks right in the middle of chapters and i found it pretty jarring to switch so quickly to conclude: was good book ✌️ buddy read with the lovely, taasia

  16. 4 out of 5

    MyTimeOutShelf

    Wow! This one’s heavy but so wonderfully written. Starfish has a special place in my heart so this was an auto buy for me and I was not disappointed. Rumi loses her sister/best friend in an instant and then is sent to her Aunts while her mother handles her own grief. Rumi feels abandoned and she takes her anger out on everyone around her. Her anger and selfishness don’t always make her the most likable character but it felt like a realistic portrayal of how a hurting teenager would react to such a Wow! This one’s heavy but so wonderfully written. Starfish has a special place in my heart so this was an auto buy for me and I was not disappointed. Rumi loses her sister/best friend in an instant and then is sent to her Aunts while her mother handles her own grief. Rumi feels abandoned and she takes her anger out on everyone around her. Her anger and selfishness don’t always make her the most likable character but it felt like a realistic portrayal of how a hurting teenager would react to such a loss. I think this book would be a therapeutic read for someone going through a similar loss since you follow Rumi through the grieving process. Things I loved... •This book is full of diverse characters and explores emotions and confusion of a character trying to figure out and accept their sexual identity. • Touches on mental health 🖤 •The friendships formed This is a tough heartbreaking read with realistic characters. Grab your tissues when you sit down to read this one!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Strolle

    I'm a f*cking mess right now I cried so much reading this and cried even harder in the last fourth oh my heart

  18. 4 out of 5

    Claudie Arseneault

    tw (which i forgot in my coffee-less state this morning) : car accident, sibling death, grief, panic attacks, drowning This was fantastic. A bit of a slow start, but by the end I couldn't let go. I loved Rumi's relationships with her two neighbours, but especially with Mr. Watanabe. 💜 Oh and the descriptions of music are just amazing? Really nice. Massive props for the asexual rep, too. It's woven throughout the story as an important part of Rumi (rather than 'mentioned one then never again'). At tw (which i forgot in my coffee-less state this morning) : car accident, sibling death, grief, panic attacks, drowning This was fantastic. A bit of a slow start, but by the end I couldn't let go. I loved Rumi's relationships with her two neighbours, but especially with Mr. Watanabe. 💜 Oh and the descriptions of music are just amazing? Really nice. Massive props for the asexual rep, too. It's woven throughout the story as an important part of Rumi (rather than 'mentioned one then never again'). At first I thought it was muddying aro & ace but it's obvious Rumi knows the difference--she's questionning both, and they feel tied together in *her* personal experience. And that feels rather true to life for many aroace spec folks. This is also one of the few times when the refusal to pick a definite label didn't feel like a dismissal of the label & community. It's so much more tied to where Rumi is at with decision making about her life and herself. I really appreciated that (YMMV on that topic).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)

    I read this as part of Riveted Lit's 25 Days of December promotion! Wow. Wow. Wow. Having read and loved Starfish by the same author, Summer Bird Blue is one of those books that will hit your emotions hard. My advice? Grab a box of tissues and have a hot drink handy. A powerful YA novel that tackles Grief and the sense of a teen struggling to make sense with the world after such a tragic loss. The main character Rumi had a sister called Lea, until she is killed in a horrific accident. Rumi's Mum the I read this as part of Riveted Lit's 25 Days of December promotion! Wow. Wow. Wow. Having read and loved Starfish by the same author, Summer Bird Blue is one of those books that will hit your emotions hard. My advice? Grab a box of tissues and have a hot drink handy. A powerful YA novel that tackles Grief and the sense of a teen struggling to make sense with the world after such a tragic loss. The main character Rumi had a sister called Lea, until she is killed in a horrific accident. Rumi's Mum then sends her away to Hawaii as she tries to deal with the trauma alone. Rumi is angry, upset and alone. But after connecting with the boy next door Kai, along with an elderly neighbour called Uncle George, she tries to reconnect with her love of music and songwriting, just like Lea loved. What I also loved was that Rumi openly discussed about her asexuality and kept her heart set on finishing the song that she and Lea were working on around the time of her death. There were moments I started to tear up, family struggles across both Rumi and Kai's world. However, it was simply a stunning read. Akemi has done it again, and now I'm going to cry. See you all soon!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I've finally read the book and I had so many emotions???? This isn't an easy read. Rumi is angry and hurting and she lashes out a lot at people who love her. If you're not into "unlikable characters," you won't like Rumi. But this exploration of grief was really beautiful and honest - how often do we wonder why it THAT person had to die and get mad about it? And I loved the way she looked back on her relationship with her sister and the regrets we had, because don't we all? No matter how good a r I've finally read the book and I had so many emotions???? This isn't an easy read. Rumi is angry and hurting and she lashes out a lot at people who love her. If you're not into "unlikable characters," you won't like Rumi. But this exploration of grief was really beautiful and honest - how often do we wonder why it THAT person had to die and get mad about it? And I loved the way she looked back on her relationship with her sister and the regrets we had, because don't we all? No matter how good a relationship is, we'll still make mistakes. And in her grief, she also makes mistakes in other relationships and has to learn from that. Also, the exploration of her sexuality???? I knew going in she was ace and I think I knew she was aro going in, but she also explores that in both flashbacks and in the present day because she struggles to just...accept that. Labels can be so complicated and take so long to figure out and she spends time in the book thinking about different terms and what works for her and just questioning. I've been aching for more characters to really have to question their sexuality and those labels so this was SO refreshing and actually impacted the plot! I feel like I'm still processing this book, so I don't know that I LOVE it, but the fact that I keep thinking about it means I probably do. Pre-Reading: I dunno who at S&S is giving me yearly ace YA but I am HERE FOR IT. (And really, they've just been quietly doing well at diverse books???? Even beyond Salaam Reads???? So many queer books...)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    4.5 stars I am quietly crying right now and covered in goosebumps. RTC

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathy - Books & Munches

    After reading and loving Starfish to pieces, I REALLY NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. And the LGBT-aspect? Consider me done for.

  23. 5 out of 5

    alice (arctic books)

    Of course it was amazing. Full RTC!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    another masterpiece. there are still remnants of mascara tears on my face from finishing this book. i can't form any coherent thoughts right now.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ❈ laura ❈

    “Well, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe you don't have to know everything about yourself right this second. Maybe you're still figuring out.” ✰✰✰✰✰ Rep: multiracial (hawaiian, japanese and white) aro/ace mc who is dealing with depression, biracial side and minor characters (many of them speak hawaii pidgin english), set in Hawaii. TW: car accident, death of a sister, depression, parental abandonment, loneliness. Wow, can somebody teach me how to review a book that is too personal to me. In Summer Bir “Well, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe you don't have to know everything about yourself right this second. Maybe you're still figuring out.” ✰✰✰✰✰ Rep: multiracial (hawaiian, japanese and white) aro/ace mc who is dealing with depression, biracial side and minor characters (many of them speak hawaii pidgin english), set in Hawaii. TW: car accident, death of a sister, depression, parental abandonment, loneliness. Wow, can somebody teach me how to review a book that is too personal to me. In Summer Bird Blue we follow Rumi after her sister death in a car accident. Her mother sent her away to her aunt in Hawaii after the event, leaving a angry Rumi to dealt with her feelings on her own. It was a hard read, not just because of how sad and difficult it was the situation Rumi was in, it was hard because it was close to home to me. Seeing her dealing with depression sometimes was like seeing myself, and also how she described how she felt after her sister's death was like seeing myself when someone close to me left me (luckly that person didn't die but for me was the same), and how she is trying to hard to figure out that is her place in the ace/aro community is myself trying to figure it out to (I'm somewhere in the ace spectrum but I don't know yet). So what can I say, Rumi sometimes was a hard character to read because of how she expresses her anger towards other people, it was really unfair sometimes, but life isn't fair with her either so even though I was frustrated with her because of her behaviour I couldn't 100% blame her either. And it made her an more realistic character to me, she's so angry because her mother left her alone in a place she doesn't know to deal with her feelings, I know I would be angry too. Rumi had an amazing character development and she learns from her mistakes and she learns to forgive and appreciate how people supported her in different ways, it was so beautiful. I loved all the characters, her mother, her aunt, her friends, even her grumpy old neighbour. All of them really contribute to Rumi's development in different ways. And I loved how complex all the relationships were, specially with her mom, whicj Rumi loves so much but she's still is so angry and she thinks she won't be able to forgive her but still she wants her mother with her, telling her what to do. It made me cry in the end and I usually don't cry while reading books. But talking about complex relationships, the friendship that Rumi and her sister Lea had was the epitome of that. They loved each other but also they were jelaous of each other, they were so supportive but also they were angry at each other, and they truly loved each other at the end. It was complex and real. And Rumi is so destroyed because of Lea's death she doesn't want to do anything to do with music, what she loves most in the world, because it reminds Rumi of Lea, and she feels so empty inside because she lost her sister and her passion and now she has to learn to live without it. “Fuck romance-Lea was the love of my life. It was beautiful and horrible and messy and angry, but it was also the purest, most innocent kind of love I'll ever feel.” Overall, it was a beautiful story full of complex characters that I loved with my entire being and that I know I will always recommend to anyone who loves hard hitting contemporary.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    Bowman literally has the best cover designer, hands down

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A lovely, powerful, and raw book about grief and loss. Rumi's sister and best friend Lea dies in a car accident, and Rumi is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii while her mother grieves alone. Rumi is angry -- both because Lea is gone and because she believes her mother abandoned her. There is a lot of anger and resentment throughout, but none of it is unwarranted. Bowman is skillful in highlighting how anger can be easier than sadness and grief, and she does so in a manner that allows Rumi to A lovely, powerful, and raw book about grief and loss. Rumi's sister and best friend Lea dies in a car accident, and Rumi is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii while her mother grieves alone. Rumi is angry -- both because Lea is gone and because she believes her mother abandoned her. There is a lot of anger and resentment throughout, but none of it is unwarranted. Bowman is skillful in highlighting how anger can be easier than sadness and grief, and she does so in a manner that allows Rumi to be angry and unlikable while also being sympathetic to the reader. I'm not entirely sure the sexuality element worked here, but it's important for the visibility and identity aspect of the book. Rumi doesn't know where she falls in terms of her sexuality or romantic identity, though the closest she comes is asexual and aromantic, with the note she is open to being fluid. I want more YA where the male character and female character ARE just friends. I'm glad we got there, and I'm glad there's ace representation, but I also don't know if it was necessary to the greater story. I wish it'd been pushed a little more. Which is a thing I did love about Rumi and felt worked spectacularly: throughout the book, she's wishy washy on everything. She doesn't see the point in finding a point to her life, especially now that Lea is gone. It's the kind of mentality those who struggle with depression often have. While Rumi is absolutely dealing with grief, it seems like she may have depressive challenges underlying that, too. Especially when we see some of her behavior and reactions through memories that are scattered throughout. But! Rumi then wakes up and better understands there's a difference between not seeing a point and not knowing the path, and that moment in the book is a biggie. I think Rumi's feeling that she has no clue what she wants or what she should do with her life and future are common feelings. She's angry and defeated by them, until she realizes that that unknown might itself be the point. That she gets to figure it out. An interesting book to read after BLANCA & ROJA, another story about devoted sisters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Rumi and her sister, Lea, dreamed of a life on the road, making music together. This dream was shattered in a heartbeat, when Lea's life was lost in a car accident. Though Rumi and her mother both survived, they had stopped living. Summer Bird Blue told the story of Rumi's summer of "goodbyes", and her trying to find a way to live without Lea. • Pro: The emotional impact of this book was unreal. I am sort of crying a little right now as I write this review, because Rumi's loss hit me really hard. Rumi and her sister, Lea, dreamed of a life on the road, making music together. This dream was shattered in a heartbeat, when Lea's life was lost in a car accident. Though Rumi and her mother both survived, they had stopped living. Summer Bird Blue told the story of Rumi's summer of "goodbyes", and her trying to find a way to live without Lea. • Pro: The emotional impact of this book was unreal. I am sort of crying a little right now as I write this review, because Rumi's loss hit me really hard. Bowman expertly depicted her pain, suffering, and guilt, and my heart ached for Rumi. • Pro: Bowman shared Rumi's memories of Lea with us in each chapter, and the love between them was obvious. The dynamic between Rumi and Lea was wonderful, but complicated and real. I thought the memories were also well placed in the story, and helped me understand Rumi's pain better. • Pro: I was so touched by the relationship Rumi shared with Mr. Watanabe. He was a special source of support for Rumi, because he related to her pain and loss. I looked forward to the time they shared together, and was grateful he was able to open himself up to her. • Pro: Can we talk about Kai! Even with all his own problems weighing him down, he was able to be a great friend to Rumi. He was charming and fun and a really important part of Rumi's healing and self discovery. • Pro: This is the first book I have read with a questioning asexual character. I knew early on, that Rumi was leaning that way, but really found the exploration of her sexuality informative. • Pro: I got to go to Hawaii, and Bowman really showed us the sights, the smells, the tastes, and the little of the culture too. Overall: A beautifully written and extremely moving book about love, loss, grief, forgiveness, and saying goodbye. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  29. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Akemi Dawn Bowman might just be my favorite contemporary author. She's written some of the most relatable books I've ever read. I'm not sure how she does it, with this and Starfish I couldn't relate to the main character at first until they said one line that made me fall completely in love with them. For Kiko it was around chapter three of four I believe where I wasn't sure I liked her until she said something about how do some people not need to recharge after being social, that's how she beca Akemi Dawn Bowman might just be my favorite contemporary author. She's written some of the most relatable books I've ever read. I'm not sure how she does it, with this and Starfish I couldn't relate to the main character at first until they said one line that made me fall completely in love with them. For Kiko it was around chapter three of four I believe where I wasn't sure I liked her until she said something about how do some people not need to recharge after being social, that's how she became one of my all time favorite characters. It took a little longer for Rumi, it wasn't until she said "Most other people my age have crushes-they're attracted to each other and have the urge to flirt. I don't feel anything like that-when I think about romance, I feel indifferent." and finally, at long last, I found an aromantic character, something I've been asking for for a long time. As an aromantic and possibly a little ace I 100% approve of this rep, everything about it is correct; the apathy to romance, the value of friendship, the pressure from society, the strong belief that romance isn't the strongest form of love, it's absolute perfection. Down to the point of even taking the guy I thought would be a love interest and making them friends instead. It's so good it must be own-voices. BUTTTT we don't rate books solely for their diversity, then this would be a five star book (the cast is mostly biracial, and not just white+poc). The story is also very emotional and captivating, I would read this for hours on end and not want to stop which rarely happens. There's also a huge emphases on family, where as Starfish was about a broken family that couldn't be fixed, this is about a broken family that can be healed after a hard, emotional journey. Also Kai is David from Lilo & Stitch reincarnated, FiTe mE! However, and this is just me, but I find this book wasn't particularly as powerful as it's predecessor. Though perhaps that's simply because the topic of narcissism in Starfish is much closer to the demons I've dealt with than grief. I also found Kiko to be a lot closer to my personality than Rumi so I related to her more. But this entire paragraph is purely my personal preference so maybe don't take it too seriously. But I also found most of the side characters to be pretty forgettable, actually I've already forgotten most of the supporting cast. Maybe Bowman just isn't used to juggling this many characters? After all Starfish had a pretty small cast while this needed many more characters for the plot. In summary; I don't love Summer Bird Blue as much as Starfish (which might be my favorite book I've read this year) but it's still a very beautiful book with a lot to offer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    “Some people are meant to be forever, like Lea and me. And other people come into your life for a reason— you help each other figure shit out and come to terms with complicated feelings that you can't process on your own.” 4.5 Stars. Honestly the audacity of Summer Bird Blue to make me feel things. Although I loved (and now even more love) Akemi Dawn Bowman's debut novel, I put off reading this book for a long, long time although it was one of my most anticipated releases of last year. T “Some people are meant to be forever, like Lea and me. And other people come into your life for a reason— you help each other figure shit out and come to terms with complicated feelings that you can't process on your own.” 4.5 Stars. Honestly the audacity of Summer Bird Blue to make me feel things. Although I loved (and now even more love) Akemi Dawn Bowman's debut novel, I put off reading this book for a long, long time although it was one of my most anticipated releases of last year. This was the first book of 2019 and wow, what a good choice. In terms of all of the aspects I usually cover in my reviews, this book excels: writing, characters, plot, and especially Rumi's unique character voice. Now the writing. Wow, just wow, Akemi Dawn Bowman has stepped up her game. The writing in Starfish was already gorgeous, but in this book it was truly breathtaking and lyrical . The prose is rich, vivid, and perfectly complements Rumi's voice in the exact type of way that I love to see in contemporaries. Hawaii is a beautiful setting and Bowman's writing manages not only to depict it well, but magnify it's natural beauty even through the eyes of a character who is consumed by her grief. The setting is also perfectly juxtaposed with Rumi's head-space, which is something that is extremely hard to accomplish but is done perfectly in the hands of a skilled writer like Bowman. Now for characters. While perhaps Rumi isn't my favorite character, I can firmly say that she's a character I won't soon forget. She felt so authentic , so real: her unique voice drew me in and didn't let me go. Her grief is so palpable that even if you can't relate to her experience, it's impossible to not empathize with her. Rumi is unapologetically awful for a lot of this book: her grief is not romanticized, not sanitized and shown in a way that is "pretty" and "inauthentic." She's allowed to be messy and its AMAZING . Her bond with her sister Lea pulls at your heartstrings and forces you to go along on her journey to being her again. The supporting characters are mildly forgettable, with the exception of Kai and Mr. Watanabe who both support and teach Rumi things about herself throughout the book. I'm not going to lie: although Rumi is aro-ace, I couldn't help but ship her and Kai just the tiniest bit . But by the end, I was more than happy to see their friendship blossom the way it did. However, (view spoiler)[ WHEN RUMI WAS LIKE "I KNOW IN MY HEART, I'LL PROBABLY WILL NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN" BITCH I SOBBED. HOW DARE YOU AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN, I NEED THIS LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP. (hide spoiler)] Speaking of which, in spite of all of the amazing other elements ( amazing representation, lyrical writing, a memorable protagonist, raw depiction of grief, a lush setting, and FOOD! DESCRIPTIONS! ), the most memorable thing about this novel for me that keeps echoing in my mind is the basic idea presented in the quote above: the idea of people entering and exiting your life at specific times for specific reasons . There's something both so amazing and sad about that universal truth that struck a chord with me. Highly recommended. Bravo, Akemi Dawn Bowman. Bravo.

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