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The Star Side of Bird Hill

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,947 ratings  ·  368 reviews
After their mother can no longer care for them, young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados to live 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 30th 2015 by Penguin Press
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Marley I think it would be OK. It does deal with some sexual issues but it isn't graphic and in the end the lesson isn't pro-promiscuity.…moreI think it would be OK. It does deal with some sexual issues but it isn't graphic and in the end the lesson isn't pro-promiscuity.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  1,947 ratings  ·  368 reviews

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Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lovely prose. Started strangely as if in the middle of a conversation but it quickly flowed into a gorgeous coming of age novel about two young girls sent to Barbados to live with their grandmother. What Jackson does especially well is capture the small island village where Dionne and Phaedra find themselves, and the tightly bound community they become a part of. Very memorable novel.
Angela M
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it

I wish I could think of a different way to say coming of age . The phrase is used so often to describe how children come to the verge of adulthood and they are usually taken there by some difficult events , but there's no getting around it . That's exactly what this story is about and how these characters face sadness , depression, death while trying to find a place in the world . Two sisters Phaedra aged 10 and Dionne aged 16 are forced to learn about and to face some harsh realities that life
Diane S ☔
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was very surprised, considering how well this book was written, to find out it is this authors first novel. The journey from childhood to adulthood is never easy, and it is especially difficult for Phaedra, aged ten and Dionne aged sixteen, when they are sent from Brooklyn to Barbados to stay the summer with their grandmother. Promised, by their mother, who has been in a depression, that she would be sending for them when summer was over.

My favorite character was Hyacinth, their grandmother, w
Elyse  Walters
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is a beautiful novel about family complexities-universal insights on growing up, and the
challenge of crumples.
When the two sisters leave for Barbados to live with their grandmother for the summer- the girls receive more steadiness of supervision, routines, chores, and rituals, than from their mother back in New York. The reader will wonder why....waiting to know more about the mystery of both parents.
Naomi Jackson takes us on a journey with each of the girls. Their characters - along with
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“Loving a country besides the one you lived in was a recipe for disaster.”

The Star Side of Bird Hill is an enjoyable coming-of-age novel about two sisters, Dionne and Phaedra, who are sent off by their mother to spend their summer with their grandmother, Hyacinth, in a small town in Barbados. The girls' aren't too happy to leave Brooklyn, even if their homelife hasn't been great given that their mother, who is suffering from depression and no longer works, can't l
J Beckett
“Hyacinth said that it was a gift to greet a new day, and that you needed to meet it in a way that showed how grateful you were to have your life spared. “

This sentence, on page 29 of Naomi Jackson's 298 page beautiful and engaging novel, Star Side of Bird Hill, essentially sums up the entire story. It brings to light a cacophony of seasoned wisdom and lessons for the youth who believe they are invincible. Set in St. John, Barbados a town on the east side of the island full of spirit -- not just
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Star Side of Bird Hill is a lovely well written book with a good story -- although readers should know it has a sad undercurrent with a very sad event right in the middle. It's the 1980s, and Dionne and Phaedra are sent from Brooklyn to live with their grandmother in Barbados because their mother Avril has essentially fallen apart and can't look after them. Dionne is 16, and she finds Barbados very staid compared to Brooklyn. Phaedra is 10 and misses her mother but is happy to enjoy the safe ...more
Read In Colour
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't remember the last time a book made me laugh AND cry. Loved, loved, LOVED the characters in this book. ...more
Book Riot Community
I feel like the descriptions of this book revealed too much, so I'm just going to tell you a little and then wave my arms in the air like Kermit because, holy cats, this novel is wonderful. It's a great summer in Brooklyn, but Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne have been shipped off to Barbardos to stay with the grandmother they hardly know. The girls' mother is suffering from depression, and thinks the trip will do them good. The girls try to adjust to the unfamiliar ways of the island, while ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This poignant coming of age story combines lyrical writing with a realistic earthiness, occasionally it’s slightly too earthy for my tastes, and it features two sisters, Phaedra age 10 and Dionne age 16, whose plans for the summer are upended when their barely functioning mother sends them a world away, from Brooklyn to Barbados, to live with their grandmother, a midwife and herbalist, skills that have been passed down in their family since the times of enslavement. Caribbean culture and the sis ...more
Larry H
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I was hoping this book would charm me more than it did, but it was still a well-written book about the power of family and the strength we find in times of despair.

When their mother's depression becomes too much for her to bear, 16-year-old Dionne and 10-year-old Phaedra are sent to live in Barbados for the summer with Hyacinth, the eccentric but strong-willed grandmother they barely know. Hyacinth, a midwife, is a pillar of the community, although some treat her differently because she also pra
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Home is more than where you live. It is where you are loved. It is the place you feel safe, where your fondest memories are created and stored. Home plays a major role in the creation of your identity. If another place was home, you would be a different version of yourself. The Star Side of Bird Hill is about two sisters, one a preteen and the other a little closer to the verge of womanhood, who are sent from Brooklyn to Barbados to spend a summer with their grandmother. This temporary arrangeme ...more
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it

I bought this late last year partly because of the sassy book cover and because Naomi Jackson (the author) is an alum of Williams College - Middlebury's (my alma mater) sister liberal arts school in the boonies! This was a very decent coming-of-age story. I liked Naomi's easy-going and descriptive writing style. Her descriptions of Barbados definitely make this a great summer read. I felt like I was with the characters on the sandy beaches and I could
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received a copy from this from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was happy to come across this book, because in my quest to read a book from every country, I had yet to find one from Barbados. The two sisters in the novel, Dionne (16) and Phaedra (10) move from Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother. There is a bit in there about the contrast between homes (in the states you get to decide what/who you're going to be, and "on the hill" who you are i
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
A year or two back, I vowed I'd read more multicultural stuff and more books by women authors. While I can't say I've gone gangbusters on the vow, I can say progress has been made. This here is a "twofer." Naomi Jackson gives us the story of two Brooklyn, NY, girls who are sent by their overwhelmed mother to Grandma Hyacinth in Barbados. To say life is different on the island is understatement.

Dionne is a willful 16 and her little sister Phaedra a sensitive and precocious ten when they meet thei
Mocha Girl
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Starry Side of Bird Hill is a coming of age story for Brooklynites Dionne, a headstrong, boy-crazy teen and her younger, tomboy sister, Phaedra. Their parents are first generation Bajan immigrants who struggle with becoming acclimated to each other, their new country, and realizing their dreams. The increasing pressures and challenges negatively affect their marriage (which eventually fails) and homelife for their children take a turn for the worse. The siblings are sent to their sagacious m ...more
Sigh. I am such a sucker for books around immigrants, belonging and a sense of family. But I guess for every White Teeth, there is a The Star Side of Bird Hill. I wanted to like everything about this, the uprooting of Dionne and Phaedra from their lives in Brooklyn to the island of Barbados and the foot of Bird Hill, the mystery surrounding their mother's illness and their father's departure and their own family history, filled with magic of the literal and metaphorical kind. I wanted to read th ...more
dianne (off seeking immunity)
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: around-da-world
Naomi Jackson is another whippersnapper, like Nicole Krauss (History of Love), who is wise beyond her handful of years. This bittersweet story about girls and women and women and girls and time and loss and the disguises of love focusses on two sisters who are worlds apart.

One sister, with the exquisite, improbable name Phaedra treads slowly, consciously, tactilely like a blind old soul carrying ancient wounds whose origins have been forgotten but whose pains remain. She seems, at times, to have
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a subtle stunner steeped in Caribbean culture and mores. But I can't help but feel sore about Donna, a fat girl child Jackson found hard to envision outside of a connection to food. ...more
Saajid Hosein
Cute! Definitely recommend.
This is the debut novel of Naomi Jackson set on the island of Barbados. In the rural village of Bird Hill, we meet and follow two sisters Dionne and Phaedra Ann Braithwaite. They are spending the summer with their grandmother. And it is clear that all is not well with these girls who live in Brooklyn with their mother. As the narrative unwinds, family secrets are spilled and life changes for these two girls.

This is a dense but worthwhile reading experience. The topics tackled are meaty and are
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jackson’s debut novel is rich with realistically complex characters and subtle wit and wisdom as the characters understand the love of family and the ties that bind them.

Two sisters, Dionne age 16 and Phaedra age 10, are sent by their mother to visit their grandmother Hyacinth in Barbados for the summer. Their mother will remain in Brooklyn to “get herself together” before the start of the new school year. Upon arriving the two sisters have a different reaction to Bird Hill, a rural and close-kn
Navdeep Dhillon
This is not the Barbados you've seen in brochures. It's the Barbados of a community, of two sisters growing up, of falling in love, of heartbreak, of betrayal, of mystery, and in the grand scheme of things: immigration. Two sisters leave Brooklyn to go live with their grandmother in the summer of 1989. The sisters are ten and sixteen. The grandmother is a midwife and a spiritual healer. In the hands of many people, it is with the grandmother that things could go horribly, horribly wrong, in what ...more
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this novel. The pace was a bit slow for me but the time the author takes in building the plot and narrative was worth it! The colorful cover art does belie the gravity of the issues dealt with in the novel. So, be warned. Regardless, I do recommend this!

P.S: I listened to a podcast (Another Round) a couple weeks ago where a few ladies talked about their frustrations with coming-of-age films about black girls that always have a tragedy (Precious). Although I enjoyed this novel and b
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: caribbean-books
For a debut novel this was really amazing. It is clear from Jackson's authors list in her acknowledgment that she is in great company.

I would have loved to give this book a higher ratings but there were somethings I could not see pass. What I absolutely LOVED about this novel is how it genuinely captures the island of Barbados. As a Jamaican, living in Trinidad and visited Barbados at least three times, I can say Jackson know her island. There was something magical and tropical about Jackson's
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: cross-cultural
This was a nice read with a very believable plot and nicely drawn characters. It is a coming of age story regarding two sisters (10 & 16) who have been raised in New York though not necessarily happily. The girls are sent to Bird Hill to live with their grandma for the summer and because of unforeseen circumstances their lives are turned up side down.
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Oh the memories while reading this book made me think about summers with my grandmother. Video review here -> ...more
Maddie (HedgehogBookReviews)
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sent-to-me, arcs
Rating: 5/5 stars

-I was given an Advance Review Copy of this book by the Penguin Press-

You can also find this review on Hedgehog Book Reviews!!

Dionne and Phaedra are two adolescent sisters living with their mom, Avril, in Brooklyn. After deciding that the girls need to get more in touch with their extended family, Avril sends the girls to Barbados for the summer. Dionne and Phaedra spend those hot months living with their grandmother and attending Catholic Summer School--which is very different
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Two sisters, ages 16 and 10 are sent by their mother to visit their grandmother in Barbados for the summer. Their mother is suffering from depression and having difficulty looking after the girls

,Both mother and father are first generation immigrants who have struggled with their new country and realizing their dreams and now are struggling with their own relationship.

Dionne is 16 years old and entering the boy crazy years and exploring her womanhood and is pretty sure she would rather be back w
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book has a quiet, yet beautiful power. It is easily one of the best stories that I have read in 2015. It is the story of a grandmother stepping in the absence of her child and taking care of her grandchildren during the summer of 1989. The story is set in the sultry land of Barbados and I feel like the regular mention of the heat adds to the heaviness of this story. Jackson presents two young girls, in a searing land that is foreign to them carrying the weight of their mother's depression a ...more
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Reading the World: BOTM Aug 2019 - Star Side of Bird Hill 6 9 Aug 13, 2019 11:37AM  
Literary Fiction ...: Naomi Jackson in DC 2 30 Jul 22, 2015 03:18AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Author's books 3 20 Jun 03, 2015 09:30PM  

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Naomi Jackson is the author of a novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill. Star Side was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association named Jackson’s novel an Honor Boo ...more

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