Elaine's Reviews > Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
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May 06, 12

bookshelves: 2012
Read from April 30 to May 05, 2012

I really wanted to like this book, which started very promisingly, more than I did. A fascinating setting, for sure, and some great characters as well. But the pacing is way off, the book creeps along, only to speed up, and then slow down again, with Blessing's too picturesque view point and studied naivete -- body parts growing bigger and smaller with characters' moods constantly is one overused metaphor -- a narrative mode that grows tired. The quirkiness and interest of the setting and certain characters (Mama, Celestine, Alhaji) can't make up for the inconsistency in others -- the abruptness and totality of the change in Ezikiel doesn't fit with what happens -- one minute he's a promising future doctor, eagerly trailing doctors at the hospital, and the next he's ...well, no spoilers, but it's a little abrupt. Similarly abrupt is Blessing's "revelation" about Father- nice narrative device -- but children growing up in a violent and scary household don't "forget" their father's violence, forgive, maybe, but black out forget no. Finally, too much of the book reads like a political tract -- for good causes, of course, anti-female genital mutilation and anti-oil/Nigerian government corruption, violence and exploitation, but still it was disconcerting to read entire passages from the Wikipedia entry on FGM repeated nearly verbatim in the book. Watson does her best to get this information into the mouth and mind of 12 year old Blessing, but still, when illiterate Grandma starts quoting statistics on FGM,it's a little much. Still...some very real moving moments, even more than the big political drama, the mother and daughter arc is touching, painful and real -- at the end Watson notes that not everyone is gifted at being a mother, and that message is perhaps the most powerful that this ostensibly "message" novel has to convey.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Nea (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nea I agree 100%R with this review. As much as I wanted and expected to love this book, I couldn't overlook the huge ways in which it came up short. I just felt like the author's motive was to shine light on some of the very important issues in Nigeria. I commend that. But I also expect an author to, first and foremost, concentrate on telling a phenomenal story. If I just want world news updates, I'll read the newspaper.


Elaine Nea wrote: "But I also expect an author to, first and foremost, concentrate on telling a phenomenal story. If I just want world news updates, I'll read the newspaper.
."


Exactly - it was so very "important issue of the day"! As much of a lesson as a story, which I can never stand.


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