Helen Oyeyemi || Boy, Snow, Bird

Boy, Snow, Bird is a fairy tale. To be honest I did not realise I had been reading a fairy tale. It might be my fault that I did not get the clues: a girl called Snow, mirrors and Bird being able to talk to animals. To be quite honest, I found those details distracting. Boy, Snow, Bird is a tale about discrimination, race and gender. I found the bleak fact that light-skinned afro-american families would rather send their children to darker-skinned relatives then being exposed as afro-americans quite upsetting. Boy marries a white man with a beautiful daughter, Snow. When Boy gives birth to her daughter Bird she turns out to have golden skin and black curly hair. Her mother-in-law expects her to do what she once did: send the girl south to be raised in an afro-american environment. Boy however sends Snow away. Throughout the novel you wonder why: does she want to protect her own daughter or is she merely jealous of Snow? The fact is that Boy herself did not have an easy upbringing and appears afraid of getting close to people. At the end of the novel Boy is told the truth about her mother and then finally she realises that her mother did not leave her but made an enormous sacrifice in order being able to raise Boy. At that moment Boy is capable of accepting Snow and takes both her daughters to meet Bird’s unknown grandparent.
Oyeyemi has written her novel in three parts: Boy, Bird and Boy tell their story. When Boy tells her story you feel the remoteness, as a reader you never get close to her. Bird on the other hand lets you in. In the final pages, after Boy realises the truth about her parents, she finally lets the reader into her life. I find that Oyeyemi shows her quality in applying her style of writing to determine her characters. I could have done without the Snowwhite parallel, I loved reading about Boy, Snow and Bird.


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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