The Star Side of Bird Hill Summary and Reviews

The Star Side of Bird Hill

by Naomi Jackson

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother's limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother's mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

Jackson's Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Recalling Toni Morrison's Love, this work will appeal to fans of African American and literary fiction." - Library Journal

"Rich in the aspect and feel of the Caribbean…A charming, laid-back bildungsroman and an uplifting story about the importance of a stable, loving home and the embrace of one's culture." - Booklist

"An engrossing and poignant coming-of-age story populated with engaging, well-drawn characters." - Kirkus

"Jackson's story becomes stronger and stronger as we get to know these characters...Readers will be turning the pages to follow Phaedra and Dionne's memorable journey." - Publishers Weekly

"Jackson has written a first novel full of heart and heartbreak, a novel about going home, about the ties that bind three generations of women across years and despite absence. It is a bittersweet lesson in learning to recognize love." - Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

"Naomi Jackson has written a tender novel exploring the complexities of motherhood and childhood... It is as much a story of the fears of childhood as it is a story about welcoming old age with optimism." - Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

"[The Star Side of Bird Hill is] the unwritten history of women without men, of girls in conflict with themselves and the damage - and healing that can come from the same place: Family." - Marlon James, author of A Brief History Of Seven Killings

"Naomi Jackson packs a hell of a lot of love and death and magic into this wonderful debut." - Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

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Naomi Jackson was born and raised in Brooklyn by West Indian parents. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded the Maytag Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction to complete her first novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill. Jackson traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, Jackson has had her work appear in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad.

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