I picked up Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi for a very superficial reason: I liked the cover. I didn't know what it was about, but when I started reading I knew I was in for something different. Set in the 50s, the story mainly follows Boy Novak, who moves away from the city to escape her evil father. She meets and marries a widower, adopting the role of stepmother to his young daughter. But while Boy, Snow, Bird may feel like a fairytale, don't expect this to be a run-of-the-mill retelling. This is a complex novel with powerful commentary about race, identity, and our perception of beauty. As soon as I finished this book, I was ready to start it over again. I'm not exaggerating
“In 1953, Boy Novak runs away from her home on the Lower East Side of New York and ends up in a small town in Massachusetts. She marries Arturo Whitman, a widower with an adored daughter named Snow, and the three live happily until the birth of Bird, whose dark skin exposes the Whitmans as African-Americans passing for white. Oyeyemi is a stunning talent who examines the disparity in how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to perceive us. Boy, Snow, Bird is a bewitching and beguiling tale with unforgettable characters.”
— Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
As seen on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where it was described as "gloriously unsettling... evoking Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Angela Carter, Edgar Allan Poe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chris Abani and even Emily Dickinson," and already one of the year's most widely acclaimed novels: "Helen Oyeyemi has fully transformed from a literary prodigy into a powerful, distinctive storyteller...Transfixing and surprising."--Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)"I don't care what the magic mirror says; Oyeyemi is the cleverest in the land...daring and unnerving... Under Oyeyemi's spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird ways in which identity can be transmuted in an instant -- from beauty to beast or vice versa." - Ron Charles, The Washington PostFrom the prizewinning author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, coming March 2016, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts looking, she believes, for beauty--the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York. She marries Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
About the Author
Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, most recently White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Boy, Snow, Bird. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. She lives in Prague.