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Blackbird Fly

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,245 ratings  ·  428 reviews
Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this debut tween novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers and following her dreams.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipi
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
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Erin Kelly Hello! Analyn's mother is a nurse ... just like mine. :-)…moreHello! Analyn's mother is a nurse ... just like mine. :-)(less)

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  2,245 ratings  ·  428 reviews

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Sue (Hollywood News Source)
I’ve been terribly busy lately. Hence, why this mini review took so much longer to write. But, I promise myself I had to do it.

Blackbird Fly is a very difficult story to read. It is not because it is poorly written, or in any way that you think, but because it challenges me as a person.

The protagonist of the story, Apple is much more than a character I could relate to. A Filipino main character who migrated in the US at an early age, is currently having a mid-life crisis figuring herself out.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i fucking loved this. it's an adorable, uplifting coming age of story. and i found myself bursting into tears from time to time because the main character is a filipino girl. to finally read from the pov of someone who is like me who i can relate to 10000% on so many levels. this was a book i needed when i was growing up. this was the book i needed for so long. i cannot wait to read more from this author. i just absolutely loved this. ...more
My thanks to Greenwillow Books & Edelweiss

Point of View: Single (Analyn/Apple)
Writing: First Person | Past Tense
Setting: Louisiana
Genre: Middle Grade | Realistic Fiction

I still cannot believe I ended up loving this book because at first I thought the whole thing was just so not interesting. I'm not one of those who love to read about girls at such a young age be
Gail Nall
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, arc, 15ers
Ah, this book! I love a good, realistic, no-holds-barred MG, and this is definitely one. The main character, Apple, struggles to fit in with her "friends" at school, and some of these scenes are so very real that they're almost hard to read. Such a great, diverse book! Highly recommended. ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly appealed to me for so many different reasons. I am always looking for good, MG school stories, and this is one about an immigration experience as well. It's a good one too with strong characters, excellent themes, and a realism about middle school that made me slightly sick to my stomach.

Analyn, known by her nickname, Apple, moved to the US from the Philippines when she was only four years old. In the y
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Debut novels are special, particularly for authors who went on to become famous. What was that first published effort like from a storyteller who eventually set the world on fire with her writing? What does a lifetime of pent-up creativity look like when it finally spills onto the page for the world to marvel at? Though Erin Entrada Kelly's second novel attracted favorable reviews and her third (Hello, Universe) won the Newbery Medal as the most distinguished American juvenile book of 2017, Blac ...more
Richie Partington
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, box7
Richie’s Picks: BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly, Greenwillow, March 2015, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-223861-0

“While you look so sweetly and divine, I can feel you here.
I see your eyes are busy kissing mine, and I do, I do.
Wondering what it is they’re expecting to see,
Should someone be looking at me?”
-- George Harrison, “Let it Down”

“My mother frowned. ‘Your father gave you that nickname.’
“I thought of my father’s name written in black marker on Abbey Road. When you write your name on something, i
Jackie Mackelhenny
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to recently receive an ARC of Blackbird Fly. This is a middle grade must read. I not only fell in love with the main character Apple Yenko, but also with the way the writer approached each character. Erin Entrada Kelly has a real sense of the way preteens view the world. She is one of the few that hasn't forgotten. I think her young readers may see her as a friend, much in the same way as those of my generation saw Judy Blume. ...more
Kathy Martin
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of middle schooler Apple Yengko. She and her mother emigrated from the Philippines after her father's death when Apple was four. She is the only Filipino in her Southern Louisiana middle school. And middle school is one of her main problems.

Middle school can often be a time of casual cruelty when every kid wants to be just like all the other kids and every kid is sure that everyone is watching them all the time. It can be especially cruel if a kid is outside of the norm in som
The Library Lady
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I waited to review this because I gave it to my 16 year old to read, first. She's got a lot in common with Apple. That includes love of the Beatles and the Filipina connection, though she's only half Filipina ( mestiza), and our Filipino family comes from a more northern part of the Philippines.

My daughter really enjoyed this and so did I.

I do have to say that I found this smacked a little bit of Wonder,a book which I emphatically disliked because I found I just couldn't believe in the plot. T
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Apple just doesn’t fit in. Her Filipino mother cooks food that no American kids eat. Plus she is so strict that Apple isn’t allowed to take any music classes at school because it might impact her other more important grades. Apple though desperately wants to learn to play the guitar. When they left the Philippines, she took just one picture and a tape of the Beatles that had belonged to her dead father. Apples does have friends, but once they discover that she is on the Dog Log, a list of the ug ...more
Sofia The Great
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nwh-bookclub, 2016
5 Platypires for Blackbird Fly

I first heard about Blackbird Fly from the We Need Diverse Books blog and then my book club picked it to read. Oh how much I freaking loved this book. As a child of an immigrant I was able to relate to Apple in so many way. I just felt a deep connection and I believe others would feel the same way.

Erin Entrada Kelly truly captured what its liked to be in middle school and trying to navigate the social structures within it. Oh the flashbacks. I felt I knew each cha
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
A beautiful and quick-reading story about a girl who learns to embrace her ethnic identity and focus on the inner beauty of those around her. We see this theme frequently, but Kelly handles it skillfully and focuses on a background (heroine and her mom are Filipinas) we don't see often in youth literature. ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Apple (aka Analyn) rails against her mother's insistence at embracing their Filipino culture in embarrassing ways like insisting on calling her Apple. Apple's father has passed away and she doesn't have much information about him, only that he loved the Beatles. Apple is having a horrific year at school because she has been listed as number three on the "dog log", a list of ugly girls in her school. Her friends Alyssa and Gretchen are appalled that she is on the list and really want to cut ties ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-school
This was a sweet middle school book about becoming comfortable with yourself even though you are different, learning to accept others despite what the majority may say about them, and confronting the things that make you uncomfortable and sad. The 4th star is for the huge, huge Beatles influence- and because I am a George Harrison gal through and through.
I felt it, I liked Apple, and I think you will too.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was the first Filipino American MG novel I've ever read, and I loved it! As someone who was born in the Philippines but grew up mostly in the US, I really connected with Apple. The story is also well-written and full of heart! ...more
Francine Soleil
Feb 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
This review is for an uncorrected proof. Also, I had typed up a better review, but technology malfunctioned and I had to write this review all over again, and I had already lost my train of thought so I'm not sure how successful this one is.

When I first heard about this book, I was definitely intrigued. It references the Beatles and my favorite Beatles song for the title. And being a Filipina, I won't deny that I wanted to see what a fellow Filipina has to offer to other nationalities about our
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fearless-15ers
I ADORE this book. It's such a great, contemporary middle-grade read--that time when friends and friendships change, when boys become BOYS, when you're so self-aware and also so not aware--it's all handled so perfectly. I related to the sense of being different, the feeling of wanting to spend those years in a hole, to grow up quickly, to escape the now. This is a book full of hope. It reminded me of what it's like to be this age--the bad and the really, really good pain of growing up. Also, the ...more
Shaye Miller
Mar 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
My thanks to for providing this title to me as an educator. The print copy has been out for a while, but I’m grateful that the audiobook is now available. Twelve-year-old Apple feels so different from all her friends — trying to balance between her Filipino mom thinking she’s “too American” to her feeling not American enough when comparing her home life to her friends’ lives. When a group of boys at school make a Dog Log (list of “ugly” girls), Apple discovers she’s in the top 5. But it ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I get really emotional and at the end of the book i started to cry for a really weird reason i would tell you but i would give the book away.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read on the plane flying home from Manila—it’s a quick read, but totally worth it. The story provides incredible insight on what’s its like growing up Filipino in America.

Definitely a valuable story for younger kids to learn how to be accepting of themselves and other cultures. :)
Feb 13, 2018 marked it as to-read

I'm from the Philippines and I moved to California with my family (7 years ago). Like my mom, I did get ridiculed by my Filipino accent even if I got placed in Advanced English classes and AP Literature. Makes me think I don't deserve it but whatever... And now I'm trying to fake or sport an American accent so people would understand me. I felt out of place but I did have a few friends even if they're not Filipinos. Whenever I feel alone, I turn to musi
Joanne Kelleher
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
In Estrada’s first book, you can see the beginning of her journey to the Newbery Award for Hello, Universe.
Apple is a conflicted 12-year-old Filipino girl who is struggling with her classmates’ racist comments, shifts in her friend group, her mother’s adherence to the Filipino ways, and her desperation to get a guitar so she can play the Beatles’ songs that her father loved so much.
This is a refreshingly straightforward plot featuring an authentic, “own voices” narrator dealing with the usual c
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hazel (and Nutsy)
May 28, 2021 rated it liked it
I liked it. i think that the story was nice, and I liked the creativity. Here are my complaints:
-if I hadn't read the back of the book I would not know what and IF is until almost done with the book when she finally explains what she's been talking about
-the end is confusing. (view spoiler)
I had such high hopes for this book, which is perhaps why my ultimate disappointment was so deep.

I loved the relationship between Apple and her mother. I thought it perfectly captured the challenge of cultural and generational differences, plus the universal truth that 12-year-olds are mortified by everything their parents do. I also thought the bullying Apple faces at school, as a girl, as Filipino, and as a Filipino girl in a very white school, was spot on. I enjoyed the narrative voice, and I
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Apple Yengko, is 12 years old, and attends Chapel Springs Middle School in Louisiana. She believes every persons has 3 “Interesting Facts” (Ifs) about them, but her facts are not so good: She has slanted eyes, a weird, frugal mother and no father, and has a Filipino name (her nickname which is a round fruit). She is used to hanging out with her “friends” Gretchen and Alyssa, but when she is the 3rd ugliest girl in the school on the “Dog List,” her friends drop like flies. Alyssa is smart and ind ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: unfortunate, music
Man, either I was totally unobservant (which i wasn't) in middle school, or my performing arts middle school was awesome. Pretty much everyone had their group of friends, and the only bullying I actually saw happened between boys and their "friends". But this school was just horrible, and this whole book reinforces the idea that you should keep such things hidden away from teachers. Which you shouldn't.

This book was horrible. I hate when an author feels like they need to go to an extreme to show
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-reviewers
(Mild Spoilers)
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly is a very touching story! How would you feel if your good friends ditched you? Not good, right? But Apple’s friends do ditch her. How would you like to be put on a list for super ugly and unliked people? Horrible! But Apple is put on the list. Apple is trying to be a “good American girl,” but that doesn’t really work. She is accused of stealing twenty dollars from a teacher and it’s not fully true! Apple is truly one amazing character, and I rea
Caitlin Snyder
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was kind of rough. Super cruel because kids can be heartless. But I think it's a little out of touch. I can't imagine nowadays no one pointing out that the shit happening was outrageously racist. Really engaging and heartfelt though. The story was great and the ending was a very nice ribbon. ...more
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“None of it mattered, because there was music.” 4 likes
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