A quick read with engaging, interesting characters and story elements, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is sure to be a new favorite.
Published: 20 August 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): Young Adult/Contemporary/LGBT+
Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.
Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.
When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.
Representation: bisexual SC, lesbian SC, majority Black cast
Parental death (off page – cancer related), underage drinking, minor drug use (vaping weed), bullying by an adult (off page – recalled in a story), racially toned police interaction
The book talking about a variety of subjects in an accessible way: parental expectations, like those that Birdie’s mom had for her daughters and, further on, where the intensity of those expectations came from; Birdie’s rebelling against those expectations in order to discover her own identity; Booker’s history as it related to his time in juvenile detention and how there was more to it than some people (like Birdie’s mom) might have thought i.e. being bullied by a football coach & his mother’s terminal illness; Birdie’s aunt Carlene and her struggle with staying sober over the years after being in and out of rehab. There was a lot to unpack in The Revolution of Birdie Randolph and while one might think that these would be too many things, Brandy Colbert handled them superbly.
I was happy that therapy was talked about, even if it was looked at from two angles. Booker’s Booker’s dad is from the old school South side and it just isn’t “him” to go to therapy, even if it would help his kid, but he gets help for his son because he knows it’s going to help Booker. Birdie’s mom on the other hand would never attend family sessions she’d be worried about what people would think about them, about giving off a less than perfect appearance.
The narrative woven as Birdie figures out who is in relation to her mother, her aunt, in relation to the family she’s a part of (even taking into account the secrets buried in the past) was really engaging. I didn’t want to put this book down because Birdie, trying to figure out how to be a person, a growing teenager, and not just someone’s daughter, pulled me in.
I was saddened by how little Birdie’s mom seemed to listen to her, whether it was in regards to Birdie wanting to play soccer, something she enjoyed and allowed her to blow off steam from the immense pressure of academics, or in regards to her relationship with Mitchell, Birdie’s ex at the time of the story. Even after it ended, Birdie’s mom (who is friends with Mitchell’s mom) acted like it was a matter of time before Birdie and he got back together. She didn’t listen or pay attention to her daughter, it felt like, just thought about the best cast scenario in her mind, never mind what Birdie felt or wanted.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph packs a punch of engaging characters, story lines that tackle different, relatable topics, and a story you just won’t want to put down.
I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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