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Birdy Flynn by Helen Donohoe - Review

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where did I get it? I won it in a giveaway on Luna's Little Library blog, so thanks Luna! It is a proof copy, I think

What's it about? Set in the mid 80s, Birdy Flynn is twelve years old and lives in an unnamed British town with her family. Mum is Irish, Dad is Liverpudlian but from an Irish family. Birdy's elder brother Noely is living away from the family. Her sister Eileen is around. 

Birdy hangs out with the lads at the beginning of the novel and throughout the book her gender is questioned. She doesn't feel like a girl and is dreading puberty. However, I will use the pronoun 'her' for her because I don't think she is out as trans in her own mind, not even by the end. There is a lot of questioning and I like the way it was handled. 

Birdy keeps secrets. At the beginning of the book her dead Nan's cat Murphy is killed, and later on a teacher abuses Birdy at school. Birdy falls out with her friends and is pretty miserable for most of the book. Her parents don't get on well, with a backdrop of IRA bombings which lead to discrimination and bigoted comments about the Irish. 

I thought that using the Irish and the feelings around the IRA were a good metaphor for the way that Muslims are treated these days. I liked the vast majority of the novel but felt that the end was a bit lacking. I thought Birdy was an excellent character and I really liked Kat, Mum, and Eileen too. A pretty good middle grade book about families and secrets and gender and growing up. 

What age range is it for? 12 plus I think

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? I'm going to go ahead and say yes, even though as I said before I don't think Birdy knows exactly how she identifies.

Are any main characters people of colour? No, but again, there are parallels to be drawn 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, trigger warning for abuse

Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes, be careful

Are there swear words? Very few, when there are it's really effectively done

Would I recommend the book? Yes, for tweens.

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I've wanted to read it since I won it, and it's been on the pile of books next to the bed ever since then, so I finally picked it up

What other books is it like? Gosh I don't know. I'm not sure I know anything similar for the same age range

How many stars? I'm going to give it six out of ten. It didn't wow me and like I said I didn't enjoy the ending

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it most probably. 

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