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The Meaning of Birds

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by HarperTeen
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Jaye I know, so far away! But the wheels of traditional publishing run slow, and so did this author. ;) Hope it's worth the wait!

Community Reviews

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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  75 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Elise (TheBookishActress)
Jun 20, 2018 marked it as zzzzz
Shelves: coverporn
this cover is the gayest thing i've ever seen in my life, it even perfectly represents the fashion style of 97% of the sapphics I know Including Myself
Jun 21, 2018 marked it as to-read
this book is gay culture, and so am i. that’s it. thanks for coming to my ted talk.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

What drew me to The Meaning of Birds was its beautiful cover - I have a weakness for illustrated covers, and this one represent the content of the book and Jess and Vivi perfectly. The Meaning of Birds is a story about a young lesbian who lost her girlfriend unexpectedly, who has to cope with that while deciding what to do with her life after the end of senior year.

I believe queer women deserve happy stories, but I think sad stories are important too. I understand why this premise could
- ̗̀  jess  ̖́-
man this book was so freaking sad

full review to come
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
Jul 13, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2019
omg this cover's too gorgeous how is this possible
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who are strong enough to handle being emotionally destroyed
Shelves: lgbtqia, young-adult

"This totally cute girl, who'd pulled me, BY THE HAND, to this table and fed me creamy potato goodness, just spoke to me IN French. Hot did not even begin to describe it."

Can I just start by saying I ship Vivi and Jess SO HARD. They were ridiculously adorable together???? Jess has anger issues and is always ready to punch someone, but Vivi is this soft, sweet girl with asthma and I JUST MELTED. LIKE CHOCOLATE IN A SMALL MICROWAVE.

The book is written in chapters alternating between when Vivi is
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, 2019, contemporary
cw: transphobia, homophobia, loss of a loved one, grief, death, alcohol use, drug use, sexual assault, fat shaming, ace/arophobia,

The story:

So there were a bunch of things I liked about this book and also a bunch of things I did not like. The general concept of the story and the writing structure was super good to me. Basically, this story is about Jess and her relationship with her girlfriend Vivi. Vivi unexpectedly dies from an illness and this story follows two separate timelines: before and
full review on my blog

ARC kindly provided by Harper Teen in exchange for an honest review.

Content warning: homophobia, grief/loss of a loved one, sexual assault, repetitive use of the d slur, transphobia

I was apprehensive about picking this up because the author’s other novel, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruits, had ableist themes that went ignored by a lot of reviewers. However, I was willing to give Brown another chance since I want to continue supporting sapphic novels (and the stun
Oh man, I cried a few times at this. Jess's grief was just so palpable, and you really felt the life that she and Vivi expected to make together. And I like that Jess was an angry girl; I feel like girls don't get to be irrationally* angry in YA. The blacksmithing, having a mentor who was also sort of a window into what her relationship might've looked like someday, and the fact that she was iffy on college were all nice touches you don't see a lot. I went into this book assuming it was a Romanc ...more
- ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads)
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, lgbt, 2019-reads
. : ☾⋆ — 4 ★


ARC provided from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review (thank you HarperTeen & HarperCollins!!)

here’s the gist of it, guys and gals: The Meaning of Birds is everything History is All You Left Me wanted to be, but better. and also sapphic.

I love everything about this book. I love that it’s about a realistic and complex journey through grief, I love the genuine growth we see in Jess from the first chapte
Lea (drumsofautumn)

The Meaning of Birds is a really beautiful, atmospheric Contemporary about first love, grief and how to continue life after losing the person you thought you'd be with forever.

“Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the point is not to stop doing the things that remind me of Vivi, but to find a way to ensure she lives through me, even if the future we painted together has been permanently gessoed over.”

I loved the way the story was structured. We get the story of how Jess and Vivi fall in lo
↠ dan ↞
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: can-t-wait-2019
......... not gonna lie i'm kinda disappointed
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
"Oh god. Stork rhymes with dork. Which I am. Because there’s no way you wanted all that trivia. Sorry, I’m ridiculously into birds. It’s a sickness.”

me [before reading]: you betcha I’m ready for some soft sapphic goodness!!

me [after reading]: oh my god my emotions holy shit this book was not as fluffy as expected where are the fucking tissues

I really loved this book! It was beautifully drawn look at grief, filled with a great cast. Greer and Eliza (an older lesbian couple who come in partway th
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I cried too many times to count.
Amber Smith
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much--Jess and Vivi's relationship was so beautiful and true. There were so many parts that resonated deep in my bones. Not only their relationship, but also the rawness of Jess's grief. I haven't cried over in book in so long, but that's how real these characters were--I loved them and didn't want the story to end (although the ending was perfect). A must-read for any who has loved and lost, anyone who has had to try to figure out how to navigate grief and healing. One of my ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
TW: suicidal thoughts, homophobia,

The Meaning of Birds is an extremely messy emotional book because it deals with a character who is handling a lot - the death of her girlfriend, her anger. Told in perspectives of 'Then' and 'Now', The Meaning of Birds unravels a moment in time - a life forever altered. While I don't mind messy characters, there were some parts of The Meaning of Birds that were difficult for me to wrap my head around.

There were a few characters - like her implied aro best frien
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown was the first book I read during my March Break Read-a-Thon, and I absolutely adored this lovely little tale of heartbreak and healing. The Meaning of Birds is emotional and raw, really exploring Jess' emotional journey and growth. Furthermore, The Meaning of Birds puts LGBTQ2+ representation and relationships at the forefront of its story, giving Jess and Vivi's lesbian love its time to shine. Finally, Jaye Robin Brown' writing is both lyrical and powerf ...more
Emily (emilykatereads)
Oh my god, has this book got me in a web of feelings. It broke my heart over and over again, while simultaneously filling it with fluff and happiness. And then to top it all off, rage at how problematic some of it was that I wanted to just throw this book across the room and give up with it.

But I couldn’t give up. I was absolutely hooked. I fell in love with Jess and Vivi’s story, but I’m also here to tell you that there’s some big fuckin red flags in this book that made me really hella uncomfor
Mrs. Europaea
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it

This book cover is AMAZING.


The novel opens with Jess trying to make sense of the senseless. Jess is a self-identified queer teenager. She has previous emotional issues with anger stemming from losing her father in combat when she was young.

Memories become missiles and no amount of vodka can divert them.

(view spoiler)
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, arc
I received this title as a digital ARC from Edelweiss for an honest review.

Jessica has anger issues, that probably stem from her dad's death. She's trying to get a handle on them, but it's just so hard. Enter Vivi. Vivi moves to their town and Jessica is instantly smitten. What's more, between Jessica's foray into art and Vivi's support, she's getting better at controlling her anger. The girls have a lovely two or so years together when Vivi dies unexpectedly.

The Meaning of Birds was a lovely,
Teenage Reads
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Teenage Girls
Shelves: 2019, advance-copy
Trigger Warnings: homophobia and transphobia*
She was sick. One day she was happy, healthy, Vivi, the next she had a cold, a trip to the hospital, and she was dead. This is not the first time Jess had to deal with lose, as her father died nine years ago in Afghanistan, and Jess watch as it broke her mother down, and watch her mother rebuild herself for Jess and Nina. Before Vivi, Jess had anger issues, as the only out lesbian in middle school, Jess was accustoming to picking fights with the
Amy (novelteahappyme)
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The Meaning of Birds” by Jaye Robin Brown is a YA contemporary novel that paints a portrait of love in the past, grief in the now, and the healing power of art. Focusing on the relationship between main characters Jess and Vivi, the book offers two narrative timelines: THEN - the story of how Jess & Vivi meet and fall for each other and NOW - the aftermath of Vivi’s sudden death and Jess’ attempts to handle grief, loss, and find a path forwards.

Highly recommended at the Frenzy Presents even
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Thank you Edelweiss for the eARC!

THE MEANING OF BIRDS is a powerful portrait of love and grief. I appreciate that from the very beginning we know that this isn't a happy story -- there is no bait and switch or surprise for the reader. Instead, the alternating timeline of before and after Vivi's death really allows the reader to immerse themselves not only in Jess's grief but also her beautiful, growing love for Vivi. This is an important book for angry girls, sad girls, grieving girls, queer gir
Shanna Beasley
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an early ARC of this book and absolutely could not put it down. It’s a beautiful story about love, art, loss, and grief. The bird theme tied the story together so beautifully and the writing at the end was so graceful that it left me in tears (in a good way)! This is a book for everyone: artists, the lgbtq+ community, people experiencing loss and grief, and really just anyone struggling to find their place in the world. Jaye Robin Brown is such a talented, inspiring writer!!!
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a sad book and many people won’t read it because of that. But do read it. It is a good book. The main topics, love and grief, will move you.

I’m not one for books that bounce around in time. One chapter the present, the next chapter the past. However, it works for this book.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, arc
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit was one of my favorite books last year, and I still hand sell it at the bookstore whenever I can. I was very excited to snag this eArc from Edelweiss.

Like GPaOFF, Brown tackles some heavy issues in The Meaning of Birds. Main character Jess is dealing with grief (the loss of her father when she was young) and anger management issues, but her life got better once she took of art and fell in love with Vivi. Although they're still in high school, Vivi and J
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading Brown's first novel and loving it, I couldn't wait to read this ARC of her next one.
The Meaning of Birds follows Jess as she grieves for her girlfriend after she dies from asthma complications. The novel switches from Then to Now, a sort of Before and After that reminded me a bit of I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - mostly because they both follow the before and after of a tragedy. Just like her first novel, I think Brown did a fantastic job, but instead of following a girl
faith ✨
Oh my God this cover . . . I'm now deceased, goodbye
Andy Winder
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
First of all, even though this doesn’t have to do with the story itself, the cover illustration is gorgeous. If my rating was based on the cover alone, it would have easily gotten a 5/5. It’s a wholesome, pastel aesthetic that drew me to the book before I even knew what it was about. Based on other comments I’ve seen, other readers found the cover very visually appealing, too.

And the book reflects that beauty as well as the beauty of sorrow and healing from the sudden loss of a partner. When I b
Kelsie Pates
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of "History is All You Left Me", "The Meaning of Birds" is about a teen girl navigating her grief after her girlfriend dies unexpectedly. Before Vivi died, Jess was happy. Vivi was a light in her life, someone who encouraged her, made her feel loved, and taught her about the world. But after Vivi dies, Jess struggles to find her way back out of the darkness. Unable to work on her art, remain connected to her friends, or stay out of trouble, Jess appears to be quite the mess. When Jes ...more
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Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life--jeweler, mediator, high school art teacher--but is now living the full-time writer life. She lives with her wife, dogs, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she hopes to live happily ever after. She is the author of NO PLACE TO FALL, WILL'S STORY, GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT and THE MEANING OF BIR ...more