April 30, 2019

#BookRecommendation: The Meaning of Birds by @jayerobinbrown

This week we have The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown!  This book has been noted as
“An evocative story of the thrills of first love and the anguish of first loss. This will break you and heal you.”—Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

Not to be missed by fans of Nina LaCour and Becky Albertalli, this powerful novel—from the acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit—paints a poignant portrait of love in the past, grief in the now, and the healing power of art.


Synopsis: Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. 

As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. 

And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away.

 Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.


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About the Author:  Jaye Robin Brown is the critically acclaimed author of the young adult novels Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit and No Place to Fall. She lives in North Carolina with her dog, horses, and wife. You can visit her on Instagram @jayerobinbrown or online at www.jayerobinbrown.com.




1
NOW: Three Days After
Hands, hearts, hugs.
I am bombarded at every turn. But I don’t know these hands, these hearts, these hugs. They are peripheral, the entire senior class only seen through the corner of my vision. None of them are the hands, hearts, and hugs I want.
“So sorry, Jess.”
“Really sucks, Jess.”
“How does shit like this happen?”
Best question of the day. How. Does. Shit. Like. This. Happen. And it begins. A collapsing. All of me, falling slowly in on myself.
“Jess, hon.” Mom’s hand lands featherlight on my shoulder. The multiton concrete of my body lists toward the familiar touch. A ragged breath escapes, a tear pools in the corner of my eye, then the pool becomes a river, and I can’t even try to hold it back, it simply flows. Mom holds me, a steadying pressure that is the only thing keeping me from sinking into the cracks in the ground or f lying off into the atmosphere.
Voices murmur. It’s a last-minute memorial, hastily put together by Vivi’s parents so the students of Grady High School can grieve as a group. But none of them, no one else in this room, can crawl down into the crater in which I now dwell.
“Let’s go, hon,” Mom whispers in my ear and places a guiding hand on my back. “This is too much for you.”
I let myself be led. More hands, hearts, hugs as Mom and my sister, Nina, walk me toward the door of the youth center.
Classmates I barely know speak as I pass.
“Sorry.”
“We’ll all miss her.”
“You were lucky to have love.”
Between the thudding ache of my heartbeats, I want nothing more than to yell “Shut up!” They don’t know. They can’t know. This ache is too raw. Too deep. Too mine.
Outside I gulp at the air. But it doesn’t ease the choke. The world, oblivious to my strangulation, spins as usual. Cars drive. Birds fly. The too-hot late September sun presses its rays against me.
“I’m going to run into Whole Foods when I drop Nina off at work. Grab some premades. I know you probably won’t eat, but if you decide to, there’ll be something,” Mom says.
“I can bring home wings, if you want.” Nina’s tugging her Slim’s Hot Chicken apron out from where it’s bunched under me on the seat and hugging my neck too hard at the same time.
My mother and sister argue about the type of nutrition a grieving girl needs. I buckle, then unbuckle my seat belt. As Mom shops for roasted vegetables and fizzy water, I trace the clouds with my eyes, wondering, hoping that there is a more. I can’t imagine a world where I never see her again. I press Vivi’s name on the glass and don’t even try to dam the river that rages out of me.
At home, Mom draws me a bath, lights a candle, and pours in some Epsom salts. “This won’t take the pain.” She holds her hand to her heart. “But it will help with any achiness you feel from crying.” She lingers, but what is there to say?
The girl I loved, love, loved is dead. Freakishly. Fast. All we had was a final hug and an I love you and don’t kiss me I don’t want to get you sick because I think I may be getting the flu, then a link of pinkies, a lingering smile, and that always, always, always want in my core. And That. Was. It.
I sink, hold my breath, and open my eyes to watch bubbles pop pop pop on the glassy surface above me, wondering what it would be like to hold myself here.
To die along with Vivi.










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