Summary and book reviews of Ostrich by Matt Greene

Ostrich

A Novel

by Matt Greene

Ostrich by Matt Greene X
Ostrich by Matt Greene
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A brilliant and moving coming-of-age story in the tradition of Wonder by R. J. Palacio and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - this debut novel is written with tremendous humor and charm.

This is Alex's story. But he doesn't know exactly what it's about yet, so you probably shouldn't either.

Instead, here are some things that it's sort of about (but not really):

It's sort of (but not really) about brain surgery.

It's sort of (but not really) about a hamster named Jaws 2 (after the original Jaws (who died), not the movie Jaws 2).

It's sort of (but actually quite a lot) about Alex's parents.

It's sort of (but not really) about feeling ostrichized (which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can't fly so they often feel left out)).

It's sort of (but not really (but actually, the more you think about it, kind of a lot)) about empathy (which is like sympathy only better), and also love and trust and fate and time and quantum mechanics and friendship and exams and growing up.

And it's also sort of about courage. Because sometimes it actually takes quite a lot of it to bury your head in the sand.

Chapter One

In Assembly last year we learned about Rosa Parks, who was the black woman who sparked the Civil Rights Movement in America because she refused to move to the back of a bus. I think it's great that black people are equal now and we don't have racism anymore, but I honestly don't get why she was complaining in the first place. On our bus, sitting at the back is a privilege that is afforded to only the most senior pupils. It has taken me nearly four years to earn this position (during which time I have matured from the bright- eyed nine- year- old who arrived at Grove End with a song in his heart and raisins in his lunchbox to the worldly and cynical almost-thirteenyear-old I am today). Middle school was meant to be only a stopgap. The bus thing is pretty much the only advantage of still being here after all this time. So when I see a Year 5 stumbling hesitantly down the aisle toward me, I know exactly what's going on. A mix of Fear and Excitement ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I didn't always want to know. Matt Greene is a smart writer, and Alex is drawn with deft, clever strokes, but I didn't always care to follow their meandering thoughts. They weren't always all that interesting. Then again Alex has these seizures and he has just had brain surgery for goodness sake. So maybe his mind can't help but wander. And that is extremely interesting to me – the way the structure of the story parallels the protagonist's personality. Ultimately it sustained me as I watched Alex try to both move through typical pre-adolescent experiences and solve the mystery of his parents' – and hamster's – odd new behavior.   (Reviewed by Tamara Ellis Smith).

Full Review (751 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Looming over this novel is Mark Haddon's tale of an autistic boy, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. This work is its miniature

Author Blurb Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Irresistible! Ostrich is loaded with wit, charm, and wisdom. Alex is one of the sweetest and most inspiring narrators I’ve ever encountered. I dare you not to laugh, cry, and fall utterly in love.

Author Blurb Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I’m Home
One of the bravest novels I’ve read in a very long time. Matt Greene lets the reader become detective, and clue by clue we uncover not only the truth of Alex’s world, but the deepest truths of what it means to love and lose.

Author Blurb Matt Haig, author of The Humans
Ostrich has given me the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had all year and has one of the funniest and most engaging young narrators I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Matt Greene is seriously funny and in Ostrich proves comedy can be the finest of arts.

Reader Reviews

Lori

Ostrich by Matt Greene
I was happy to be given the opportunity to read Ostrich as I’d heard comparison of it to two of my favorites, Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It did not disappoint me. I thought this was a great read, particularly ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Mnemonics

In Matt Greene's Ostrich, protagonist Alex Graham is obsessed with mnemonic devices. How did mnemonics get their start?

Simonides of Ceos was a Greek poet in the sixth century B.C. As the story goes, he was asked to recite an ode at a nobleman's banquet. Simonides began his speech, as was customary, by thanking the gods – in this case Pollux and Castor, twins who were later transformed into the constellation Gemini. But the nobleman did not appreciate sharing the limelight with the gods. Simonides would get half of his fee, the nobleman said, and if he wanted the rest he could ask the gods themselves to pay him. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was called out of the room. Two men were supposedly at the door to see him. He went to the ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Ostrich, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Collection
    The Last Collection
    by Jeanne Mackin
    What it's about:
    The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin follows the lives of two internationally ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.