Title: The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available Aug. 20th
Summary: 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.
Review: I think I’ve reviewed every book Brandy Colbert has written here on RiC and you all know that I’ve loved every book she’s written. Her latest novel is no exception. Again, I planned on reading this novel slowly like a extravagant meal, instead I inhaled it like a yummy treat that you eat in the middle of the night. I was really drawn to Dove (aka Birdie) and her revolution as she began to assert herself from her parents and become the young woman she wanted to be.
One of the aspects of this novel that I really liked was that there was no build-up to Dove’s life before Carlene moves in and her meeting Booker. The novel begins with Carlene meeting Dove on the stoop of their house and she’s already in her secret relationship with Booker. It felt like I was being dropped off in the middle of Dove’s life and going on the journey with her as she meets her aunt, officially, and her desire to create an new relationship with Booker despite her parents. Dove is a girl who has met her parents expectations but she is on the cusp of figuring out who she really is and what she wants. When we meet Dove, this desire to “revolt”, so to speak, is already there, it’s just a matter of how she will go about it. Her growing relationship with her aunt, and her budding romance with Booker, only help her come out of her shell, rather than be the catalyst for it. Through her relationship with Carlene, Dove has an adult that she can express herself with and question the world (to a certain extent). This is a relationship that is opposite from her parents, specifically her mother, as her mother is very strong-willed and focused on doing things “the proper way” instead of allowing her children to form their own identity. For Dove, Carlene becomes a sounding board for her thoughts and helps her make decisions. Booker, on the other hand, allows Dove to express herself in a different manner, to learn what type of romantic relationship she wants. Booker is not her first relationship (which I also found refreshing) so Dove has the ability to counter the two and understand what she needs from a romantic partner and how much her parents influenced her previous relationship. Her romance with Booker is for her, about her happiness, and not something she is doing to make her parents happy. She learns to be open and honest with Booker, as well as be able to express her sexuality. I loved their relationship as it was so sweet and so loving.
Colbert’s strength is writing characters that you can immediately relate with and “Revolution of Birdie Randolph” is no exception. All of the characters were people who made both good and bad decisions, and you felt some kind of way towards them. I kinda hated Birdie’s mom, Kitty, for I felt like she was too hard, to strict on Dove, but I understood she was coming from a place of love, therefore she felt very real to me. Because of Dove’s quiet revolution, her relationship with her mom had a very realistic tension that many mothers and daughter’s experience. There was love between the two, but also when they fought it wasn’t pretty. They come to understand each other in the end, through a lovely plot twist that I didn’t see coming, but works magnificently. Again, these relationships are Colbert strengths and I love that she writes these complex relationships with such care and beauty.
“The Revolution of Birdie Randolph” comes out on Tuesday, and I suggest you pre-order it now, or ask your library to order it so you can read it when it comes out.