Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Birds of Paradise' by Diana Abu-Jaber is a study of family and how distant some people can become, even when they live in the same home. Avis and Brian have two children, Stanley and Felice. From the beginning, the reader knows the Felice is only a teen and has ran away from home. Avis is a pastry chef, deeply involved in her work, mostly to block out the rest of her life. Stanley wanted to be like his mother, meticulous in cooking, but it was the one thing that she did not want for him. Brian seems to be totally floating away from the family, contemplating an affair at work, distancing himself from everyone else.

This book really draws the readers into this family. Although most of it is about the characters wrestling with their own demons, the book is still able to keep you moving along, waiting for revelations from each one's past in order to get the complete picture.

*Reviewer received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads

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1 comment:

UK said...

This is not a story of abuse or addiction--although there is abuse and there are drugs in her story. No, Felice was a supremely lovely and loved child being raised by flawed, but essentially good, people. And part of the suspense of the novel is the motivation for Felice's actions. No one can understand why this young girl went off the rails. At one point her father asks himself:

Abu-Jaber captures the atmospheric otherness of her setting. ("She remembers how Hannah hated everything about Miami--even some of the best things, like the hooked-nosed white ibises roaming around in the grass and the flowers that blew up into winter foliage--a tree or bush opening overnight into flower like perfumed flames.") And not just the exotic physicality of the place, but the uneasy clash of cultures. ("She'd felt disorientation strong as vertigo after they'd first moved to Miami--as if her magnetic poles had been switched. The drivers were appalling, punching their horns, running reds, cutting each other off like sworn enemies. There were certain shops and restaurants one would not wish to enter unless one spoke Spanish--and not at her halting, college intermediate level, either. There were whole neighborhoods and sections of town where she felt scrutinized and sized up.