“I got caught in the path of a tornado but I’m still here.”
Hello, My Lovely Readers,
I’m so excited to be guest posting this week’s “Book Remarks,” and I’ve chosen “Red Bird,” a remarkable coming-of-age novel written by B.A. Crisp. There’s a bit of crossover among the genres of action and adventure, contemporary, fantasy, and science fiction. As the blurb on Amazon states, “In Native American culture, the Red Bird is a ‘seer’ or messenger from another realm. In Christianity, when a cardinal appears, angels are near. In BA Crisp’s remarkable first novel, a Red Bird means redemption; for your sins, for anyone you’ve loved and lost, or from a secret you hope to keep.” I won’t spill any secrets here, but “Red Bird” is a book you need to read, and in reading, you will gain an inside understanding of what it means to stand out while trying to fit in.
Crisp includes so many tiny details that can only be felt through the edgy situations and the real emotions behind the words. Samantha is the kind of character you want on your side and by your side: “…but I’d do it again if it meant saving my best friend.” This is the kind of loyalty and defiance that characterizes Samantha throughout the book, and in true teenage fashion, readers get snippets of the simmering bitterness that could consume her if she wasn’t designed to be the protagonist of this story. Perhaps one of the great strengths of this novel is that readers see the motivation behind what Samantha does, and in understanding her motivation, readers gain a deeper understanding of her. Crisp does this with other characters as well. When Rakito tells Reggie to “Call the cops,” Reggie responds in the one way guaranteed to reveal the severity of the circumstances: “They can’t help us.”
Ingrained in the prose is an authentic description for what Samantha feels: “And I hate her for destroying all those beautiful ideas and thoughts she was too stupid to understand.” Beyond the anger, there is defensiveness and deflection for her actions. When she says things like, “Feelings cause problems and get in the way of survival” and “I only steal what I need,” it’s a reminder to readers that not everyone’s compass has the same settings, and Samantha skates between sarcasm and wit. When asked the name of the fox, she replies, “Hope… As in, I hope therapy gets canceled and the church burns down.”
The raw expressions Crisp uses are balanced with subtle humor in a way that captivate me; however, it’s not just the writing that holds this book together. Woven within the plot are pieces of lore – “We get one good female warrior and some guy elbows her out of the history books to take the credit” – and lessons on dark matter and gravity. There’s a subtle nod to the value of higher education and a not-so-subtle pitch for the power of teamwork and collaboration, and while there may be mention of faith, realms, and stardust, what’s most notable is the interconnectedness of… everything.
“Red Bird” is the book I wish I’d read when I was a teen, and it’s the one I’m recommending now to everyone who was a teen—you know you were.
As always, thanks for your time!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. She has a Master’s Degree from George Mason University, is completing her Doctorate in education from Northeastern University, and joined The Seymour Agency after she ended an eight-year career teaching students language arts, grades 6-12. As a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, she understands the importance of balance, and she encourages everyone to stay flexible. Cleveland is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum, and she loves connecting with other readers through social media. She can be reached through her website: www.marisacleveland.com or follow her journey on Twitter: @marisacleveland and Instagram: @thereisnobox.