The Meaning of Birds

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“Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.”

The Meaning of Birds

I saw the cover and I was sold. I knew I needed to read it. The only issue was I was on vacation and I saw it in a public library that was over a thousand miles away. I couldn’t get a library card and check it out when I was scheduled to fly out the next day. It would have been rude to who I was visiting. So I waited for my library to get it and then forgot about the book, until I saw that cover again.

This book has so many positive things. Things like an aroace main character (not so great is the aphobia that the MC spouts at this character when she gets mad). There is a straight boy in a relationship with a trans girl (of course there is transphobia over this because of the ridiculous idea that trans women are men. Please stop. Trans women are women. Done). There is the idea that anger can be covering up other emotions and the idea that women can be angry.

Honestly my favorite part of this book is the anger. The MC has a lot of anger and has been in therapy for it. She knows it is there and she suffers the consequences of not being able to control it. I love that she on page goes through the steps to stop her anger and that the few times she gives in are reasons I would legitimately have issue faulting her for (but other characters do). So I really understood the feelings of wanting to give in to the anger since it didn’t matter why she was angry. And angry was better than numb or sad. Angry was safe. Was this book written for teenage me? Because anger was my number one emotion.

The pain that comes with art is also fascinating. It is wonderful to see pain and anger in such a nuanced way in a YA book. I remember being unable to even drive by the place someone took me on a first date after a break-up that was particularly painful. I can’t imagine losing someone like the MC did. That pain being put onto her art which is a coping mechanism for her was so painful and raw. I loved how she learned new art and new creativity. I loved how she didn’t jump right back into a relationship. I loved how she made so many mistakes and was far from perfect. At times the MC was downright toxic and awful. She was called out for it and she refused to budge. Then she was called out for something else and went “shit, I am really messing up”. It took her a while. She was so human. I just adore this book.

This was almost a perfect book for me. There was a random transphobic moment near the 3/4 mark that just didn’t make any sense. There was no reason for the remark, especially considering the character was completely cool with a trans woman character (who is only mentioned, but never actually seen and had already met my random transphobia limit in the book). There was also a lot of biphobia for some weird reason. The MC is very concerned about her girlfriend being interested in men and gets super defensive and weird when things are explained. It was just not ok.

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4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.

~Isaiah