Monday, February 15, 2016

Cybils Middle Grade Finalist: "Blackbird Fly"

I'm covering the Cybils' Middle Grade finalists in alphabetical order, so today you'll hear about Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly.

Main character Apple and her mother have moved to Louisiana from the Philippines. Apple is growing up American while at the same time living with Filipino culture at home. The Filipino culture part results in her becoming the target of boy bullies at her school, who use a particularly unpleasant method to attack girls, many of whom are not members of different cultures. They're selected for other reasons.

Initially this book seemed to me to be a bully book. But I think it could also be described as a between cultures story. Though the bullying stuff is going to be what gets most readers' attention. 

Apple wins over the student population with a suddenly discovered, but also long foreshadowed, talent, something I found a little bit of a stretch. I think it could be argued that it's more of a YA story than middle grade, too, both in terms of the characters' ages and the situations they're in. But whatever the age, this is a book that will probably be embraced by any reader who has suffered at school and hoped for a way to overcome it all. Fast.

Check out author Erin Entrada Kelly's extensive list of short fiction publications. At some point, I do hope to hit some of those.

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