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If Birds Fly Back

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Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she's scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it's a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back - and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he's only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro's disappearance - and return - their planets start to collide. Linny's life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

344 pages, Paperback

First published June 27, 2017

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About the author

Carlie Sorosiak

9 books260 followers
Carlie Sorosiak is the bestselling author of I, COSMO, as well as two novels for young adults, IF BIRDS FLY BACK and WILD BLUE WONDER. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @carliesorosiak.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 167 reviews
Profile Image for Warda.
1,090 reviews17.4k followers
August 26, 2020
Pre-reading review:
Tag line: “Love is what happens when you’re looking for something else.”

And because I’m feeling single AF these days (blaming The Kiss Quotient), I thought this could get me out of my funk.

Post-feelings:
Still feeling single as hell, but damn was that book imperfectly perfect. The author has poured her heart and soul into this book.

It's a story about two characters who are dealing with some kind of loss in their own way. Linny's sister disappeared without a trace. Sebastian has never known his father till his mother springs upon him that his father is a famous author, who's recently resurfaced after 3 years of no one being aware of his whereabouts.

Linny, who is obsessed with this author - as well as movies - goes on a mission to find out where exactly he has been and why he's returned. She's hoping this will bring some clarification to her sister's disappearance. At the same time, she has been keeping a diary of people who have disappeared in the past and resurfaced and seeing if there is a pattern that she can discover.

Once Sebastian finds out about his father, he searches for him and finds him. Both characters then meet as they're after the same man and the story takes off from there.

I loved the writing style of this book. It was so whimsical and dreamlike and each chapter of both characters started off with either aspects of Linny's 'disappearance diary' or Sebastian's love for science and parallel universes. They provided insight into the characters and how they were dealing with their situation and I absolutely loved that. It added so much personality and depth to the story.

Their were hints to their cultures and backgrounds as Linny is mixed race (Nigerian and white) and Sebastian is of a Latin background, which were nicely incorporated. Alongside it, Linny was writing a script about her relationship with her sister and to cope with that particular loss.

Everything about the story was just woven so intricately and so beautifully done. I was completely transported and swept by the magic of the story. It was poetic, full of love, insight on life (it made me appreciate the elderly and their wisdom) and the characters breaking out of their shell. Needless to say, I shed some tears. It was amazing to go on that journey with them.
Profile Image for Carlie Sorosiak.
Author 9 books260 followers
Read
March 15, 2017
I mean, impartially speaking, it's pretty good. Things in this book: movies, Miami, kissing, more kissing, astrophysics, missing people, love, questions about finding your place in the world, and a bird or two.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,383 followers
August 31, 2017
My full review can be found at United by Pop.

This story chronicled an adorable blossoming romance that made this the perfect read, for this time of year. Their growing attraction was obvious to the reader but I still enjoyed reading of their emerging emotions and tentative struggles to restrain them. Scenes of an absolute adorable nature followed their accepted summer romance and I now know that no more perfect date can exist if it doesn’t involve a ball pit and a horde of energised twelve-year-olds!

But there was also some grit mixed in with this sweetness. Both Linny and Sebastian are struggling with their own internal monsters, which adds notes of poignancy to, what became on times, a heart-wrenching read. They have both suffered a disappearance and it has shaped the people they have become, but they are beginning to understand that what has altered them doesn’t also have to stunt them.

As they continue to learn from each other and to grow in the presence of their shared, new-found knowledge, their demons begin to grow wings and take flight. And so to does the reader benefit from their shared experiences. Many lines of lasting brilliance end this novel and the messages it imparts are important ones. This entire novel takes place over the course of just one summer but the message it leaves the reader with are something that can be carried for a lifetime.
Profile Image for Cale Dietrich.
Author 6 books730 followers
August 22, 2016
Maybe people fall together while they’re falling apart?

Okay, so this book was ASTONISHINGLY good. It’s addicting and super fun and stars a duo of unforgettable characters who start the summer romance to END all other summer romances.

Case in point: the ball-pit scene. I don’t think I’ve ever read a scene that was as swoony and perfect as that one. And then it just keeps getting better from there, with more incredible, cinematic and unforgettable scenes. This book really captures that that magical, sun-soaked feeling of summer, and then combines it with two of the most loveable and interesting YA characters I’ve ever read about.

Speaking of, BIRDS is dual POV, split between two very distinct and equally amazing characters: Linny and Sebastian. I adored both of them so much that they’re new all-time faves. Linny, who is trying to find out what happened to her sister, is so charming, relatable and complicated. And then there’s Sebastian, who is just everything. He’s this nerdy boy with messy hair who wears shirts that say stuff like ‘I edit Wikipedia’. He’s just the best, and I already know readers are going to fall totally in love with him.

This book also tackles a lot of really big questions about loyalty and self-discovery and family in such thoughtful and unique ways. It’s got a really great insight into the way the people/the world works, and I love it even more for that.

Basically: this book is just incredible. It’s extremely fun to read, has a lot of depth, and is nearly impossible to put down. I’ll just say this: Sorosiak is now an insta-buy author for me, because I’m totally in love with this book, and I need more books like it in my life.
Profile Image for Anna Priemaza.
Author 3 books184 followers
September 7, 2016
Holy bananas, this book was good. I loved every bit of it. The famous, elderly cult writer who shows up at the old folks' home where Linny volunteers, mysteriously reappearing after three years' disappearance. The gorgeous screenplay Linny writes to cope with the fact that her sister disappeared out the window one night and hasn't been heard from since. Linny's notebook entries about people in history who disappeared... and why they came back. The excerpts from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities genius Sebastian quotes to cope with why his father disappeared. The adorable, dorky, anxiety-filled way Linny and Sebastian fall in love. All of it: magical.

IF BIRDS FLY BACK is a love story, but it's about so much more than romantic love. It's about friendship. ("Say what you will, but bromances are real.") It's about sisters. ("Are you still running, Grace? Because I'm still chasing you, and my legs are about to give out.") It's about unexpected relationships that change you and heal you and set you free. ("This is going to sound kind of corny, but I think I needed him this summer, in a completely different way than I thought I did. He broke me out of something.")

The whole story was gorgeous and full of heartache and joy and poetic and beautiful, and I can't recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Cam (justabookeater).
141 reviews275 followers
July 16, 2017
A copy was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

I don’t consider myself a big fan of summer contemporaries simply because I live on an island where it's practically summer every single day. I always find them cliche and predictable, especially with the whole tourist aspect which I hate.

If Birds Fly Back is the complete and total opposite of what I just described. In this novel, we are presented with a mystery. Linny’s older sister, Grace has disappeared to god knows where and since then, Linny has been obsessed with the disappearances (but most importantly the returns) of random strangers. Enter Álvaro Herrera, famous novelist who was supposedly reported missing over 3 years ago, now lodging and seemingly retiring at Silver Springs retirement home in Florida. His reappearance is just what Linny needs (with her logic) to figure out the mystery of her lost sister.

Then we have Sebastian. A boy obsessed with the mysteries of the universe and astrophysics but most importantly, the mystery that is his father. Unexpected news sends him straight to Florida where, as we would expect, his and Linny’s worlds collide. With Álvaro in the middle of course. Nothing spells romance like an eighty something year old novelist who seems to be losing his wits little by little.

Together, they form an unlikely alliance and camaraderie. This is definitely what I loved best about this book. Its unconventional but sweet. We have the clash of two completely different generations and how both are now learning from each other’s mistakes.

The romance is not over the top which I appreciated immensely. The story ISN’T about Linny and Sebastian’s romance. It's about love and all its imperfections and obstacles. It's about how complex and borderline irritating it is to express love and how there is no correct way to do it. Linny’s relationship with her parents is strained, to put it lightly. Sebastian feels betrayed by a mother who kept part of his life a secret. Together and apart, they must work through this or lose themselves in the process.

I loved how fleshed out these characters were more than anything They both have such complex identities; Liny is biracial with a Nigerian mother and a white father and Sebastian’s latin background won me over especially when we get to meet his aunt. There are pieces and hints of each other’s culture without them being the focus of the story. I enjoyed that but others might not and I respect that.

Linny’s love for film is fascinating and adds so much to her personality while Seb’s love for facts and scientific thought mixes surprisingly well with Linny’s personality. They’re both o likable and relatable, it’s hard not to love them. I loved the dual perspectives. Both of them had a lot to say while inside their own heads and I’m glad we got to see that.

This is the kind of story that sticks with you with its abundance of relatable passages and quotes. I felt nostalgic while reading it which is always a good sign. Nostalgia and melancholy are my signs of identifying a good contemporary. All in all, this was great book and I can see myself rereading all my favorite passages over and over again.
Profile Image for Jilly Gagnon.
Author 10 books235 followers
August 10, 2016
This book was SO. GOOD.

I adored Linny and Sebastian--they're both such unique, interesting, lovable-but-flawed characters and I want them to be my IRL friends.

And Alvaro! He was as much a magnetic pole for the reader as he was for the characters; I was so impressed by how Sorosiak was able to convey the kind of ineffable draw he had for people even though he didn't have a ton of screen time.

There's so much to love about this book: the quirky, unique personalities of everyone in it; the sweet summer love story that never feels predictable; the big-picture questions about identity, and following your passions, and finding your place in the world; I could honestly go on for days.

Seriously, though, just get your hands on a copy. You're going to fall in love SO hard.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,418 followers
July 22, 2017
This is so raw and real and wonderful. You're all going to love this to pieces. And wait until you meet SEBASTIAN.
July 28, 2016
 photo giphy 44_zpsh1x3ew1a.gif

"Let me tell you something about hands. They’re not one-size fits all like hotel slippers. Ours slot together with an audible chink. (At least I can hear it.)"

I had the privilege of reading an early copy of this work. It's funny and sweet, and the characters are memorable, engaging and endearing. It reminded me of what it was like to be young again and in love. Linny is smartly written, easy to identify with and to like. Sebastian is adorable and his voice is also authentic, written as a boy in his situation should be. Alvaro is a mystery, like a fancy box that arrives on your doorstep--you cannot wait to open it to see what's inside. The rest of the characters are equally colorful and fun to live with. You root for them all! I'd be okay if this book was 100 pages longer, because I didn't want it to end.

The ball pit scene! Just wait for the ball pit scene :)
Profile Image for Emily Murphy.
Author 3 books385 followers
September 27, 2016
If I were going to teach a class on voice, this book would be my assigned reading. IF BIRDS FLY BACK is told from the dual POVs of Linny and Sebastian, a couple of teenagers reeling from the loss of two important people who have separately disappeared from their lives. There was so much about this book to admire: in particular, I found the structure of it to be so clever, interesting, and unique. Linny's scraps of facts on famous disappearances; Sebastian's quotations from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities; and most of all, Linny's movie script, pieced together in sections interspersed throughout the novel, was something that touched (and often broke) my heart in merely a handful of lines.

IF BIRDS FLY BACK is a coming of age story that will both rend your heart and make you cheer. Perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES.
Profile Image for kate.
1,076 reviews913 followers
August 20, 2018
If Birds Fly Back was a lovely story of love, loss, family and self discovery. I warmed to both Linny and Sebastian as characters and Carlie Sorosiak’s writing style made for a perfect, easy summer read.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,124 reviews245 followers
June 20, 2017
“Theoretically, everything should be explainable. But what if the explanation is that things are a gazillion times simpler than we think? That we don't need theorems to figure out our own lives?
What if it’s as simple as a boy loving his father? A girl loving a sister?
A boy loving a girl?”

If Birds Fly Back is a beautifully emotional story that resonates love, longing, and hope. This is a story about family and expectations and longing and grief. Linny is left reeling after the unexpected disappearance of her sister Grace, and all of Sebastian’s intellect can’t tell him anything about his birth father. Both teens are striving for answers and reasons to mysteries they don’t understand. Linny and Sebastian come together and learn more about family, acceptance, and themselves in the process.

Things I Liked :
Linny and Sebastian both were great MCs. Linny is a contradiction of optimism and realism. She has a heart wrenching dedication to her sister Grace, and her world implodes after her disappearance. I loved how she documented disappearance, and while maybe not the healthiest of coping tactic, it was truly unique and fascinating. Sebastian is again is a bit of a contradiction. He wants to be an astrophysicists - so he’s very logical and analytical. He also is a bit of a dreamer, who uses physics to explain the beauty and mystery around him. I also really loved Álvara Herrara. Though we don’t get much from him, he very much felt like a catalyst for our characters and the overall story. He was so earnest and a lovable grandfather-type character trying to play matchmaker for our two leads.

I loved Linny’s script. It was so beautifully whimsical and meaningful. I became invested in her relationship with her sister, even though we’ve never seen them together. It also really showed Linny’s emotional state and growth through the story as she starts questioning and blaming herself, wondering what she could have done, and grow toward acceptance.

Sebastian’s little theorems and thesis prompts through the story was one of my absolute favorite parts. Like, Linny’s scripts, Sebastian’s theorems showcased his thought process and emotions really well. And they were just fantastic in general. Here are some of my favorites:
A Theory for Absent Fathers #2: The end of invisibility directly correlates with the beginning of complication.

Theory on Kissing, Featuring Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. But you will never fully understand this until there is a girl pressing her lips against yours in the same way that you are pressing your lips against hers.

The Stars-are-Like-Secrets Principle: Both can run out of fuel. Even if they remain dormant for years, all it takes is a catalyst. One day, they will explode.


This story was so EMOTIONALLY GRIPPING!!!!!!! It was so powerful and moving without feeling really heavy or depressing. There was this bright air of hope and growth that infused happiness into the story.

Things I Didn’t Like :
I felt like Sebastian’s father reveal felt really abrupt and out of nowhere. It happened at the beginning of the story to set the events into motion, but it just came out of left field.

There was this whimsy-ness that made it hard for me to connect and really sink my heart into the story until about 60%. It almost felt like I was an outside looking in, and I was missing an unnamed something.

This was a surprising success for me and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know how many times I can say beautiful and emotionally resonate, but it was just so fantastic. This is perfect if you like your summer contemporaries with some depth and great character growth. Highly recommend this!!!

I received a copy of the book from HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Karen Fortunati.
Author 1 book103 followers
May 29, 2017
What a gorgeously written, absolute gem of a debut! Carlie Sorosiak deftly weaves themes of loss, abandonment and identity into one of the most captivating romances I've read. I adored Linny and Sebastian! The story's structure works brilliantly in the alternating POV of the two main characters but what elevates it to another level is the addition of the character's coping mechanisms: Linny's screenplay and excerpts from Sebastian's favorite physics text. Drafting the screenplay helps Linny get an understanding of her sister's abandonment and Sebastion relies on the text for guidance in dealing with his father's abandonment. While these issues are serious and Sorosiak never underestimates the immense pain of these losses, the story just sails due to the humor and wit of Linny and Sebastian. The dialogue in this book simply pops off the pages, the characters' voices so distinct and singular, the Miami setting so realistic you could feel the heat - IF BIRDS FLY BACK picks you up and doesn't let go until the last page. This spectacular debut is a must read!
1 review
August 29, 2016
This book is absolutely, positively amazing. I am normally a slow reader but I could NOT put this down. While the amazingly sweet, true-to-life romance will definitely draw you in, there is so much more to discover and think about in this book. Alvaro's character is so perfectly written, the relationship between Linny and Grace is so painful and raw but so beautifully written that you just want to drown in it with Linny. The friendships are genuine and all the characters are people you would actually KNOW and ones I'd genuinely want to be friends with.

Beyond the story itself, the writing is just superb. While masterfully developed, it is not contrived or overwrought. You feel as if you really are in the characters' heads and that they're really not that different from you.

Seriously, read this book!
Profile Image for Sara_loves_book.
231 reviews22 followers
April 19, 2022
خیلی زودتر از انتظارم تموم شد و اولاش گاهی به دراپ کردنش فکر میکردم ولی کم کم که رفتم جلو خیلیی روون شد و حتی نفهمیدم چجوری تموم شد. داستان یه عاشقانه‌ی ساده و عجیب و غریب بود. پر از حقایق علمی و فیلم شناسی واسه همین اولاش باید تحمل کنین تا بهش عادت کنین. هم خوشم نمیاد ازش و هم دوسش دارم و حسم بهش عجیبه. از خوندنش پشیمون نیستم ولی قطعا جزو مورد علاقه‌هام نیست.
درمورد ترجمه باید بگم که چند چپتر اول گاهی واقعا اذیت میکرد ولی بعداً خیلی بهتر شد و باهاش مشکلی نداشتم. سانسور خاصی هم نداشت. به جرئت یکی از خوشگل‌ترین جلدهای توی کتابخونمه👀.
درمورد شباهتش با عشق و ژلاتو که دلیل من واسه خریدنش بود؛ فقط چند تا اتفاق و چندجا از پلاتشون شباهت داره ولی حال و هوای عشق و ژلات�� و اون آزادی و جذابیتی که تو تک تک کلمات عشق و ژلاتو بود توی این کتاب به چشم نمیخورد.
فکر کنم همه چی رو گفتم دیگه. خودتون برای خوندنش تصمیم بگیرین🌼✨.
Profile Image for Kate Watson.
Author 5 books118 followers
December 28, 2016
The idea of this book sounded so good, but the reality of it is so much more. IF BIRDS FLY BACK is lovely and heart-wrenching and hilarious and unique and beautiful, all at once. I couldn't help but fall in love with Linny and Sebastian, as well as the minor characters, like Alvaro and Linny's dad. Linny's and Sebastian's stories are compelling and their emotions feel real. Sorosiak hits every emotional beat perfectly. I cried and squealed and swooned in every place that I wanted to and in plenty of places I didn't expect to. This book is deep and delightful, and you don't want to miss it.
Profile Image for Kayla.
Author 15 books339 followers
September 27, 2016
It's only been a few hours since I finished reading If Birds Fly Back, but I cannot stop thinking about it. This world and its characters felt so, so real—I loved seeing the world through the perspectives of Linny and Sebastian, and I absolutely adored Álvaro, the eccentric elderly man who brought them into each other's lives. The Miami beach setting was vibrant and distinctive, too; every time I picked the book up, I was easily and immediately transported to their world.

While I adored If Birds Fly Back for its incredibly fun and compelling story—which is also, at times, heartbreaking—I also adored it from a craft perspective. I loved how Linny's chapters were framed with journal entries and excerpts from her in-progress screenplay, and that both offered insight into what she was going through in the wake of her sister's disappearance. Likewise, Sebastian's physics-themed observations were a creative and excellent way to peek into his head and heart. Without going into too much detail, because spoilers, I loved how Sorosiak brought both the screenplay and the physics around full-circle. Everything was just so cohesive, and the storylines/main character arcs played brilliantly off of each other. I could basically just go on and on about how much I loved this book.

All this to say, if If Birds Fly Back wasn't on your radar already, I hope it is now. I have a feeling I'll be recommending this one for years to come—for anyone who enjoys books by Stephanie Perkins or Jennifer E. Smith, books that live at that perfect sweet spot intersection of fun-but-with-tons-of-heart-and-depth. Can't wait to read what Sorosiak writes next.
Profile Image for Jenna.
569 reviews239 followers
July 26, 2017
3.5 stars.
This review also appears on my blog, Reading with Jenna.

I received a review copy from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If Birds Fly Back is a summer contemporary about missing people and those who are left behind. The book follows Linny and Sebastian and is told from dual perspectives. Linny’s sister, Grace, ran away from their stifling home environment and Linny has been trying to understand what happened ever since. When she shows up to her volunteering job at a nursing home and finds Alvaro Herrera, who was presumed dead three years ago, she decides that this is her chance to figure out why people disappear in the hopes of bringing her sister back. Sebastian is in Miami in search for his long lost father, whose identity he has only just learned. His and Linny’s paths cross and both mysteries start to unravel.

I enjoyed the concept of this novel a lot and thought that it had a wonderful message. However, I didn’t find the plot to be very engaging and I had a little bit of trouble staying invested in the story. It was a bit of a slow-paced novel that didn’t have a lot of plot so I found the middle third of the novel to be a bit hard to get through and slightly forgettable. The themes weren’t as fully developed as I would have liked and the whole book felt a little bit too light despite the heavy topics that it was tackling. However, I enjoyed the reveal towards the end and the way the story came together at the end. I also really enjoyed some of the alternate formatting in the book, such as the film transcripts, and appreciated what they added to the story.

My favourite part of the book was the characterisation. I loved both Linny and Sebastian’s characters and liked how well-developed they were. Linny is a film geek and it was great to see that she was so passionate about it. Sebastian is an aspiring astrophysicist and I also really enjoyed seeing him display his knowledge of scientific theories. It was these aspects that kept the book enjoyable for me. I also liked the side characters for the most part but they had very minor roles in the novel and were a little bit forgettable. Having said that, Linny and Sebastian more than made up for this and I would happily read another book about these two characters.

Despite how much I loved Linny and Sebastian as individuals, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance. The novel really isn’t about the romance so I found it to be a little bit unnecessary, especially in the middle of the novel where nothing was really happening except the romance. However, I thought it was really cute and they were wonderful together. I just wish that more focus had been placed on the plot and the themes rather than the romance.

Overall, I enjoyed If Birds Fly Back and thought that it was a unique story that I haven’t really encountered before. The characters were beautifully written and I enjoyed the relationships in the novel.
Profile Image for Chayse Sundt.
333 reviews10 followers
June 28, 2017
Everyone handles the loss of someone differently as well as reconnecting with someone you didn't know was still alive. Sometimes we pretend that a person is still there, that they have just run away or are vacation. But most importantly we always wonder if they would every fly back.

The books follows two characters. Linny, a girl intrigued by people who disappear for days, months and/or years at a time suddenly reappear, and Sebastian, who although is fascinated by space and the amount of galaxies, has a hard time with telling you who is father is. In getting to know both these characters the reader goes on an adventure where sometimes looking for one thing can lead you to finding something else.

I think what was really interesting about this book for me was that it wasn't one that I could or wanted to finish in a day. I picked up the book and immediately was teleported to a story of perfect simplicity. Told in duo point of views (which is one of my favorite things an author can do) we are able to really see and learn what is going on in both the minds of our two protagonist.

This was the book I needed right now in my life. It dealt with not heartache but a sisters bond, friendship, unexpected love and so much more. Told in both a poetic and imaginative way Carlie Sorosiak delivers a debut book that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I know when I was done this was my reaction....

If you have not yet gone to the store to pick up this fantastic novel, you are surely missing out. Carlie, thank you for giving me a book that allowed me to cry. for giving me a book that pulled at my emotions and allowed me to feel but mostly importantly gave me a book that I will hold dear to me forever.

I give this book 5 souls!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,329 reviews231 followers
June 30, 2017
Wait, I need to dry my tears. That was so beautiful!


I am not even sure where to start with this book. But, the gif above pretty much sums up what I looked like when I finished reading If Birds Fly Back. You know, where you are so happy and emotional, that you are simultaneously laughing and crying. That was totally me.

I immediately fell in love with the characters in this book. Both Linny and Sebastian were so cute and unique. Linny was an aspiring filmmaker, who was trying to come to terms with her sister's disappearance. She felt like her world had dimmed without her sister in it, but Linny just did not see herself the way others saw her. She was vibrant, sweet, and charming. And Sebastian! He was the geek that you could not resist. His mother had finally revealed the identity of his father, and he was in Miami trying to connect with said father trying to solve that puzzle of why his father left him. Sebastian was a lover of astrophysics, who always felt like there was a piece of him that was missing, when in fact, he was a a perfect package of loving son, awesome friend, and quirky genius. These two were awesome on their own, but even better together.

This story really won my heart, because both Linny and Sebastian were searching for someone, but along the way, they found themselves and each other. This type of story always pierces my heart and brings me joy, and If Birds Fly Back was no exception to this rule. This tale masterfully blends so many themes together. Sorosiak tackles family, first love, identity, and friendship. I obviously latched onto the love story with both hands, as I always do, but it was made better by all the other parts of the story.

Something which enhanced my reader experience was the way Sorosiak told the story. The book alternates between Linny and Sebastian's POV. Linny's chapters contain excerpts from her Journal of the Lost and Found, as well as scenes from her screenplay, The Left-Behinds. Sebastian's chapters contain quotes from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities, as well as his own very well named theories. Each excerpt and quote was used thoughtfully and fit properly in the part of the story it was placed. They provided interesting background information, and also helped me focus on important ideas in that chapter. I especially loved The Left-Behinds. These snippets spoke so much as to the feelings Linny kept deep down inside, and we filled with gorgeous imagery.

This book was the perfect blend of fluff and substance, hard and soft, heavy and light, happy and sad. It took me through just about every emotion, and left me with my heart bursting with joy. If Sorosiak continues to write books like this, I will read every one of them.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book


BLOG|INSTAGRAM|BLOGLOVIN| FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
Profile Image for Amber  ~ The Reading Addict.
444 reviews174 followers
August 16, 2017
"I tell you un secreto pequeno, nina. Only two things matter in life.
How we love and how much we love."


It's rare that I thoroughly enjoy a book as much as I did If Birds Fly Back. Smart, carefully crafted, and full of heart, this summer debut had me falling in love with Sorosiak's story and characters.

At times, this novel reminded me of Paper Towns and Wherever Nina Lies, two other books that revolve around the disappearance of a spirited young woman. Although there are clear similarities, I was interested in Sorosiak's approach to the plot and her strong depiction of those left behind by people who run away. I was also intrigued by Sorosiak's decision to center much of the novel on an elderly man and his life in a nursing home, simply because it's not very common for young adult books to spend much time discussing problems of the old and the dying.

Ugh, Sebastian and Linny's relationship was just so dang cute. Equal parts serious and giggle-inducing, their romance had me grinning throughout most of the novel. Pair their blossoming love with an interesting mystery or two and bam, you've got yourself a novel to pack with you on your next beach vacation.

Like many young adult contemporaries, If Birds Fly Back is very much a classic coming of age novel. However, I was extremely impressed by Sorosiak's writing and ability to weave important themes about growing up into a story with so many different plot lines. We hear from Linny, who has lost her sister, and Sebastian, who has never known his dad. They struggle with different issues for different reasons, and yet we witness both of them as they pick up the pieces and learn to move on in life.

Overall, I was really impressed with this first novel by Sorosiak, and I'll definitely check out any other novels she may write in the future. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with Linny and Sebastian. Who knows? You might even walk away with a better understanding of your own wings.
Profile Image for Jago T.K..
1 review
August 2, 2016
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This book doesn't come out for a long while, so I won't do a proper review just yet. However, it's funny, smart, and charming. I'm reticent to admit this, but I even choked up during a few parts. You're going to want to add this one to your to-read list.
Profile Image for Kelly.
307 reviews31 followers
July 3, 2017
If Birds Fly Back is a gorgeous debut from author Carlie Sorosiak. Filled with emotion and feeling, this book is a beautifully written story of love, loss and finding yourself. From the first few pages I knew this book was going to be special.

I loved the dual narrative of this book and thought it was so well written. I really got to know both of our main characters and felt invested in both of their stories. First up we meet Linny who is struggling to come to terms with the disappearance of her sister Grace several months before. I really liked Linny because I could just feel her pain so easily and I loved her ambition. I thought she had great development throughout the book and I’d quite like to be her friend. Then we have Sebastian, sweet darling Sebastian. I thought he was adorable and I so badly wanted to scoop him up into a cuddle when things were collapsing around him.

I loved that both Linny and Sebastian had their own separate issues to deal with and how this intertwined to bring the story together. I thought that the theme of loss was very delicately handled and felt very real. Although the romance happened very quickly (I prefer a slow burn) I thought the relationship was very cute and I was really rooting for them.

Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was the little quirks in each chapter. All of Linny’s chapters started with an excerpt from her journal of lost people. These were really interesting to read and I could so relate with Linny because if someone I loved were to go missing I would be desperate to do all I could to find them. Linny’s chapters also contained scenes from her screenplay about Grace and these were so gorgeous to read. Sebastian’s chapters always stared with different scientific theorems and throughout his chapter were his own theorems about his life experiences. I loved these added elements because it was a real reminder that Linny and Sebastian are their own people and have their own passions too.

The relationships in this book were really well written and very realistic. Sebastian and his best friend back home have a great friendship full of funny, realistic ‘boy’ banter. Linny and Cass have one of the most realistic friendships I’ve read in a while. Their friendship is definitely flawed and under strain due to Grace’s disappearance but it was nice to see the conflict within their friendship not being hidden because even the best of friends will having fallings out and I think it’s important that not all friendships in YA are completely perfect.

I also really appreciated the influence of parents in this book. Quite often in YA novels the parents are mythical unicorn creatures who get the odd mention but nothing more. In If Birds Fly Back the parent/child relationships are so, so important. It’s clear from the beginning that Sebastian has a close relationship with his single mother and it was interesting to see how his feelings flipped and turned when discovering who his father is. Linny has a very complicated relationship with her parents and feels overwhelmed by them a lot of the time. It’s easy to see why, being as they have lost one daughter already, but it was great to see Linny discover her courage and finally speak up. I thought all of these relationships had excellent, realistic dynamics.

An incredible debut that will tug at your heart strings and insist on planting a smile on your face. Fantastic!

Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books, Carlie Sorosiak and NetGalley for my advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Colin.
703 reviews79 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
March 28, 2019
I read almost 150 pages and still nothing important has happened. It's not that it's completely boring but it is way, way slow considering it's supposed to be somewhat of a mystery.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,063 reviews59 followers
April 13, 2017
If Birds Fly Back is a poignant debut. This book is refreshingly heartwarming. A little sad, a lot realistic, and something a bit magical.

Linny is obsessed with people who disappear and then reappear again. Her sister Grace left home one night and hasn't been seen since. Linny believes if she can study enough reappearances she might be able to bring Grace back somehow. So, when Linny spots Alvero Herera - missing, presumed dead for three years - at the nursing home where she volunteers, she knows she needs to learn his secrets. Sebastian too wonders why people leave, why they can turn their backs on their families. He, too wants to know Alvero, to know his secrets. But Sebastian has a secret of his own.

At first Sebastian and Linny repel each other. They get in each other's way, they think they are so different from the other. I love it when characters begin by disliking each other. It brings so much more growth to the story. As Sebastian and Linny start to share their secrets, they learn that they have more in common than they originally thought. And, through a summer of piecing together secrets, they form a strong relationship.

If Birds Fly Back is told in alternating chapters, which switch between Sebastian and Linny's points of view. They both have experienced the grief of losing someone who disappears without warning. They both are compelled by mysteries and questions, disappearances, theories, and reappearances. They are both wonderful characters. And yet their voices are unique. Sebastian has a colourful imagination, enhanced by his love of science and theories and testing the unknown. Linny has an artful creativity. Added to her chapters are sections from the screenplay that she is writing about losing her sister and trying to find her again.

The book has great imagery, from birds to colours, and is set against Florida's sun-baked beaches and suburbia. Linny's screenplay and Sebastian's astrophysics quotes and theories just add to the richness of their characters. There are also a great set of secondary characters, from Alvero himself, to Grace, who we only see through Linny's thoughts and screenplay, as well as Linny and Sebastian's friends.

This is a story about growing up, learning who you are, who you want to be, where you came from, where you are going, and better understanding who the people around you are, even when it feels like you don't understand them at all.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,670 reviews701 followers
July 1, 2017
When it came time to read this book, I wasn't quite sure why I requested it in the first place.

I liked Linny and Sebastian well enough. I loved that she was into film and he was into physics. They're both dealing with some things and it's an elderly man that brings them together.

Plot wise it was just meh. There were some cute moments, but nothing really stood out. Nothing grabbed me. I'm struggling to write a review to explain anything and the fact that it took me 5 days to read it should speak volumes.

Overall, it had potential to be an interesting story, but it was definitely missing something for me. Considering the reviews that up, I'm in the minority.

**Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Bee.
177 reviews3 followers
June 5, 2017
This is actually a surprisingly good book! At first I thought it was going to be another mediocre YA romance, but the characters are adorable, the plot - in some ways - is pretty unique and it definitely had me hooked! It's a very cute, colourful love story that should be up there with the Jennifer Niven's and the John Green's!
Profile Image for Trisha.
1,908 reviews95 followers
April 20, 2017
Another well written story about a girl who comes out of her sister's light to find her own place. I like that Linnie isn't searching for love, and yet...

Some geeky moments, especially with Sebastian's passion for astrophysics.

Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
April 21, 2017
An unfortunate case of "crash and burn". I was enjoying it, if more on a superficial level than actually feeling a strong connection to the characters, but then about 3/4 of the way through I lost all patience with them. Talk about total derailment. :/
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