Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Books I've Loved: Summer Bird Blue

This is a gorgeous book about love and loss and recovering from trauma.  The writing is beautiful and the characters are both unusual and real.

Rumi and her younger sister Lea are closer than most sisters, spending all their spare time together writing and playing music.  But when Lea is killed in a car accident, Rumi loses the desire and the will to play.

Unable to cope with both her own grief and her daughter's, Rumi's mother sends her to stay with her aunt in Hawaii.  Rumi reads this as an ever bigger betrayal, and proof that her mother has always loved Lea more.  Filled with fury, Rumi's first weeks in Hawaii are spent sleeping or raging at anyone she comes in contact with - her aunt, the boy next door, the older man with the yappy dog who lives down the block.

Rumi is determined to finish the song she and Lea were writing before the accident, but she can't find the music inside her any more.  Just thinking about music is painful for her, and early attempts to string lyrics together are a disaster.  But one night music drifts over from the elderly neighbor's and draws Rumi in.

As the summer moves on, Rumi begins to navigate life without Lea with the help of her elderly neighbor whose own grief is palpable in every moves he makes.  And then there's Kai, the boy next door whose attention makes Rumi confused, but in a good way.

This is a beautiful story about love and loss and learning to live again.  Rumi is realistically drawn in her depression and fury and inability to move on or make decisions about herself and her life.  Her feels about Kai and romance in general felt realistic and not at all tacked on just to tick another diversity box.  I like that she wasn't certain about her sexuality at such an early age, but also that she knew there were options that might fit her, or might not.

Definitely recommended!

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.


  1. Sounds interesting. I might have to read it.

  2. This sounds like an absorbing read. Good review. You've piqued my interest.