Friday, August 6, 2021

Book Review: Sugar Birds

Hey, hey, hey! How is your week going? Three of my four kids have been off to Grandma and Grandpa's house this week so it has been so QUIET. Matt and I literally had no idea what to do. I read, I got blog stuff done, and then I took a lot of naps because I have not felt well, so that's my absence reason this week. I've just felt generally unwell and I don't know what the deal has been. As we head into the weekend, I'm feeling better but not great. I don't know if it's just depression or what. I'd really like to perk up. 

Sugar Birds - Cheryl Grey Bostrom

Northwest Washington State, 1985

For years, Harris Hayes has taught his daughter, Aggie, the ways of the northern woods. So when her mother's depression worsens, Harris shows the girl how to find and sketch the nests of wild birds as an antidote to sadness. Aggie is in a tree far overhead when her unpredictable mother spots her and forbids her to climb. Angry, the ten-year-old accidentally lights a tragic fire, then flees downriver. She lands her boat near untamed forest, where she hides among the trees and creatures she considers her only friends—determined to remain undiscovered.

A search party gathers by Aggie’s empty boat hours after Celia, fresh off the plane from Houston, arrives at her grandmother’s nearby farm. Hurting from her parents’ breakup, she also plans to run. But when she joins the hunt for Aggie, she meets two irresistible young men who compel her to stay. One is autistic; the other, dangerous.
I'm not familiar with the books this one is compared to (The Scent Keeper, The Snow Child, and The Great Alone) but I can tell you this one gave me Where the Forest Meets the Stars vibes. At the time when I first finished that book I was just meh on it, a solid 3 star, nothing special. But now that I'm a ways from it, I appreciate it so much. Along comes Sugar Birds and you guys... this one hurt my heart. Maybe being a mom does that to me. 

In this story we have Aggie, who happens to set her home on fire (parents inside) and she panics. She flees into the woods because she is scared of what will happen to her/consequences but also she feels horribly guilty. Never mind that nothing she does is a normal reaction to the situation, so it made me think maybe she had some kind of mental disorder going on (brother is autistic and mom was severely depressed). She feels somewhat at home in the woods, and the author does an AMAZING job describing the woods and really setting the scene. Enter Celia (who I didn't love) and she's moving to this area to be with grandma and she's got some feelings about it. She's like 16/17 and hates it. Hates her life. Hates everything. Imagine an emotional, emo teen who hates the world and that is Celia. She's just... she's so much and I didn't like her. Oh yes, and then we also have to talk about Colt who is CLEARLY nuts. He's got to be a sociopath or something, but he's the guy you'd hear about on a crime podcast later on. I did not like him and he gave me all of the bad vibes, but thankfully the book mostly centers around Celia and Aggie so never fear. 

The story is told in dual voices, and you can tell these characters are young but also incredibly immature. As someone with a 16 year old, I can tell you that it's pretty authentic. I loved all of the bird references and I loved how much research the author clearly did. This story is a clear dive into human emotions and the power of assumptions can have on your life. I also liked how the author introduces different kind of loss, but shows how different people manage loss because you can see how easy it is to go off the rails without help. 

I can't really tell you more because it ruins the ending for sure, and it's important to read the story not knowing what happened in each scenario and how it happened. I love how the author helps the characters (but us, too) learn that even when things are bleak, you can come back from everything. No matter how bad something seems, you can always turn it around. 

A huge thank you to Spark Point Studio and Cheryl Grey Bostrom for having me on this tour and sending me a copy. I highly suggest this one if you're looking for a fall read (it feels like you need to get cozy, with a blanket, on a comfy chair, with cocoa (unless you're a pumpkin spice kind of person) and dive in. 
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