Matt's Reviews > Cemetery Bird

Cemetery Bird by Bridget Bufford
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's review
Feb 13, 12

Read in February, 2012

When I was a high school student and avid reader, I thought this was the only kind of adult book there is-- a long hike through some hellish personal experienced with a difficult but profound lesson and sense of peace to be gained through the process. It's a wonder, given how autobiographical such books seem, that I wanted to be a writer!

Of course, now I know there are all kinds of books, even ones written by soft bodies like mine. This book, doesn't flinch on the horror-- narrator Jay/ Jenn has a heroin addicted mother who abandons the family when she is eleven; her brother has bipolar disorder and ultimately drives off a road and dies, but not before he gives birth to a son with what reads to me like pretty severe autism. Jay runs from the trauma and ends up as a hotshot, fighting forest fires in Arizona, though of course she must ultimately return home to face her demons.

For all that, there's a lot of warmth here, whether in the cute antics of llamas or the genuinely moving sequences between narrator Jay and her autistic nephew Brandon or his friend Boots. Instead, it's the traumatic breakdowns-- the nightmares that lead to middle-of-the-night screams, the awkwardly symbolic dreams, some of the other explosions of emotion-- that feels a little shoehorned into this story. The central tension of the story, then, boils over without warning and in occasionally strange moments.

In the end, it's a compelling read. There are a lot of different experiences presented here, all of them deftly and there's a real sense that reading this work, you're seeing something new of the world. That's an accomplishment all its own.

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