Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.
Dove "Birdie" Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she's on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past...whom she knows her parents will never approve of.
When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family's apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded--she's also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she's known to be true is turned upside down.
This was so raw and real and nuanced and sex positive and I loved it so damn much. Brandy Colbert is a master when it comes to writing hard-hitting, realistic YA and I am forever in awe of her. Read this book!!!!
Books like these are why I don't five star everything I read just because the author "tried." It skews the whole rating system and undervalues the work of truly brilliant authors who aren't afraid to be edgy, messy, and real, which is part of the reason I loved THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH so much.
Dove is a "good girl" with strict parents, but there are secrets she's keeping that even her parents don't know about. She's dating a "bad boy" named Booker who went to a juvenile detention center, and she's started doing things like sneaking out, experimenting with alcohol, and spending 1:1 time with her estranged aunt, who just got out of rehab and has just entered her family's life looking for a 2342343rd chance.
Every time you think this book is going to take the cliched route, it does a complete 180. I love the balancing act Dove strikes between trying to be her own person and make her parents proud. I loved the conversations about sexuality that arose because of her ex, Mitchell, and her best friend, Laz. I loved how Booker was so much more than he seemed, and while his history was treated with the gravitas it deserved, it also wasn't played up for the drama. He was a sweet kid who messed up once and was looking for a second chance. I loved Dove's aunt, Carlene, and her story. I felt like the way that this book treated addiction and recovery felt real, and it definitely didn't feel dramatic or easy. There was also a twist in the last half that I figured out before the MC did, but totally didn't see coming before then.
Anyone who loves YA books that deal with real world issues and have lots of diverse rep will love this. Our heroine is Black, and so is her family and several of her friends, including her boyfriend. Several of the characters are LGBT+. It deals with heavy-hitting topics like addiction, discrimination, sex, coming out, and substance use very maturely, never seeming too preachy or too exploitative. It's a tough line, handling topics in a way that feels natural and authentic without letting that "adult" pearl-clutching voice slip through, but Colbert did a fantastic job, and Dove sounds like a real, mature teenager.
Also, the feels. There were several moments in this book where I teared up. It definitely isn't a book that wraps up neatly with a bow, but real life is rarely like that, and the ending was satisfying, as it felt like a break and not a stopping point on Dove's journey to self-discovery. I'm so glad I read this book and would pick up more from this author in a heartbeat.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
I finished this a few days ago and the more I think about this book, the more I appreciate all of the things the author managed to do with the story. At first it seems like a fairly simple story but in reality there's a lot going on here.
Sixteen-year-old Dove "Birdie" Randolph has always tried to live up to her parents' expectations. She studies hard and gets good grades and follows the rules they have set in place for her. Well kinda. Even though her parents insist they meet any boy she wants to date, Birdie so far has been keeping quiet about her new boyfriend, Booker. She knows her parents won't approve of his troubled past.
Birdie's estranged aunt, Carlene, is staying with the family after just getting out of rehab. Even though there is some tension among Carlene and Birdie's parents, Birdie has been developing a close relationship with her aunt. Birdie wants to be in control of her life rather than her parents, and begins testing the waters and making choices she knows her parents won't approve of. But then a long held secret comes to light that is going to rock her world.
I don't read YA fiction all that often when compared to other genres but I found the book cover for this so visually stunning, I knew I just had to make time for this one. And I'm so glad I did because it's a good reminder that stories about teenagers can be just as compelling and interesting as those about adults. This was a quick read and I wouldn't say the writing is overly descriptive, but it's well worth reading because it's a book with substance. I don't want to elaborate much further than that because I don't like giving spoilers in my reviews. Just trust me when I say the author did a good job exploring many issues that are relevant to not just teenagers but adults as well. And what I liked is there was a good combination of subjects explored in depth and some that were just briefly touched upon. It didn't feel like the author was trying to cram in so much stuff that it overwhelmed the story.
There's a diverse cast of characters and even though Birdie is the star of the show, I thought her family and friends had depth and were intriguing characters as well. If the author ever wanted to do a spin off book featuring any of the teenage characters or Birdie's older sister, I would definitely be interested in reading it.
Definitely recommend especially if you love YA fiction.
I was sent an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is a wholesome and thoughtful YA coming-of-age. Within the first chapter I was invested in Dove and her story. There was something so tender about her sensible yet sensitive narration that made me immediately care for her. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph follows sixteen-year-old Dove, also knows as Birdie, who is devoted to her studies, used to obey her parents' strict rules...that is until she starts seeing Booker. Knowing that her parents would disapprove of Booker's 'troubled' past, Birdie decides to keep their relationship secret. When Carlene, Birdie's estranged aunt, moves 'temporarily' in with Birdie and her parents after her latest stint in rehab...things get complicated. In spite of Carlene's fraught relationship with Birdie's mother, Birdie finds herself really connecting to her aunt. Unlike her parents, Carlene is open-minded and easy to talk to. As Birdie starts to really fall for Booker she begins to test her parents' rules, landing herself in a bit of trouble. There were some very genuine discussions about addiction, sex, coming out, and sexuality. The kids in this book are under all sorts of pressure: to succeed, to live up to their parents expectations, to prove themselves to a society that is quick to write them off. We are shown the positive and negative effects that this 'pressure' has: when Birdie sole focus becomes her studies, she has no time to switch off, to experience normal teen life (socialising with friends, doing something for fun, going to parties). The dialogue is engaging, the story has a great sense of place, and the characters are believably nuanced. While there is a revelation later in the narrative that might strike readers as slightly predictable, Birdie's reaction to this 'knowledge' is what counts. I really enjoyed reading this. It is a quick, but by no means superficial, read. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is a sweet and affecting novel that I would thoroughly recommend to lovers of contemporary YA.
the depiction of strict parents was wayyy too accurate. bus volume? astronomical
I like all of Colbert's books, but I think this is the one that would appeal to a mainstream audience the most, mostly because it deals much less with sensitive topics than her other books. doesn't mean that it's better or worse, just that if you didn't like her books in the past, you might still like BIRDIE! big reveals, lots of family issues, and a touch of romance. very well paced.
This is my second favorite Brandy Colbert book after Pointe! I didn’t expect to like this so much or to stay up reading the whole thing, but it was so readable and almost comforting in that way that I didn’t want to stop. I love that everyone was basically black and queer. The love interest reminded me of the love interest from my book, which is fun. I also saw myself and my family in a lot of this, like having an alcoholic family member/parent, a divorce that happens bc one parent is gay, being afraid to come out to your parents bc of that, etc. I’m really glad I got to see this Aunt struggling because this was sort of my dad... except he never got better.
That was depressing. But the book isn’t!
I was just thinking that Brandy writes “quiet” interior books for black girls about black girls having problems in their lives and hanging out and falling in love that aren’t necessarily high concept. I really love that.
I did think Booker was sometimes flat (I was wondering why she was SO into him) but he proved his sweetness a lot of the time. There’s also one part with the cops that bothered me where the author seemed to imply that black men face police brutality and black women don’t.
The plot twist is a well worn trope with a bit of a twist. It just made me... I was like “none of this would’ve happened if you just communicated.” And Dove was too forgiving. I would’ve been mad at everyone forever for being manipulative and annoying. I also thought her mom was ridiculous, but I sort of saw why she was like that.
All in all, this was really good. I’m glad Brandy Colbert writes.
Dove’s mother has the rest of high school mapped out for her: SAT prep courses, parties with only parental supervision, and no more soccer. Dove works hard to be a good daughter, but when she gets closer to a new boy, Booker, and to her estranged aunt Carlene she begins to long for her freedom and be treated more like an adult. This coming of age story also brings up old family secrets that change Dove’s perspective. I enjoyed how real the characters felt, the diversity in the book, and that the sensitive topics didn’t feel forced. If you liked We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, I think you will love this book! - Michelle V.
I don't think Brandy Colbert needs a comparison to stand out, as she's proven herself a voice in YA. But the ARC compares her to Nicola Yoon and Nina LaCour and I'd absolutely agree: this is a quieter book (a la Nina LaCour) that takes on family and relationships in realistic teen ways (both LaCour and Yoon!). The romance in this one definitely has the Yoon effect to it.
This is a book about following the rules and breaking them, but even more than that, it's a book about the family we're born into and the families that we make along the way. Birdie's aunt shows up at their apartment right before the summer begins, and that's when everything changes; it's at this same time Birdie is secretly dating a boy she knows her very strict, proper parents wouldn't like. Despite never pushing boundaries before, these two new people in her life encourage her to take some chances and learn some lessons she never would have on her own.
Colbert depicts Carlene's alcoholism with tenderness and offers up the whole range of emotions people experience both as those who are addicts and those who are friends and family of addicts. There is support, but there is also caution exercised around Carlene that showcase hope for her to find recovery but also experience in knowing that this is a disease that is challenging to manage.
The Chicago setting is, no surprise, spot on. I started reading this in a hotel just a block from the Civic Opera House, which plays a tiny role in the story. Other Chicagonalia include Portillo's, Montrose Beach, the L (including above and below ground talk), the way Chicagoans live for those four perfect days a year, and more. It's vibrant and real, and isn't also afraid to highlight the racial challenges within the city, in terms of violence, racism, and bigotry, and the places and spaces where those do and don't overlap.
Also handled really fabulously is anger and anger management, recovery from trauma and what that does and doesn't look like, and it offers such a refreshing perspective on teens, especially teens of color, who've been in the juvenile justice system.
Birdie's best friend is half black and half Latinx, while her ex-boyfriend .
I'm never sad when I read a Brandy Colbert book, except when I am finished and know I'll be waiting another year for her next.
Have you ever read a book that immediately transports you back to your teenage, awkward self? This was that book for me, and what made it even better was the fact that this story was about black characters and black culture, which is something that I didn’t get to read a lot of when I was younger.
16-year-old Dove ‘Birdie’ Randolph has always strived to live up to the expectations that her parents have set for her. With her big sister Mimi studying pre-med in college, Birdie is expected to follow behind Mimi’s success. Therefore, Birdie puts her schoolwork first, has a perfect GPA, and adheres to the strict rules that her parents have set in place. Her parents insist on having a relationship with anyone that she decides to date, which up until now she has always abided by, but she knows that her parents won’t approve of Booker since he has a troubled past.
Birdie’s estranged aunt Carlene shows up to stay with her family after a stint in rehab for substance abuse and addiction. Birdie immediately notices the tension between Carlene and her parents, but she is even more drawn to Carlene since she’s much more lax when it comes to household rules. As Birdie begins to open to Carlene, she begins to rebel against her parents’ strict rules by making choices that her parents would definitely NOT approve of.
This is one of those YA books, that I think is incredibly important and relevant to teenagers because the book has substance and deals with real life topics. This book discusses important topics such as substance abuse and addiction, underage drinking, peer and societal pressure, and a host of others. I think the author does a fantastic job of having an honest conversation about these topics without glorifying anything.
Overall, if you are looking for a real to life YA contemporary full of complex characters as well as a greater insight into black culture then you definitely need to pick this one up. Also, I really wish Carlene could come do my hair…just saying.
Thank you to The NOVL for providing an ARC for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
You can see this review and many others on my Blog
"With a name like Dove, you got to fly."
This story follows sixteen-year-old Dove "Birdie" Randolph, who strives to be the perfect daughter for her parents. She studies hard, gets good grades, and always follows the rules. However, she meets and falls for this boy named Booker who she keeps a secret, knowing her parents won't approve of their relationship due to his troubled past.
Birdie's estranged aunt, Carlene, shows up one day after just getting out of rehab for substance abuse and addiction. Even though Birdie starts sensing some tension among her parents, and Carlene, she starts developing a close relationship with her aunt. That leads to Birdie wanting to take control of her life, and make a few choices she knows her parents won't approve of.
This YA novel is one that talks about so many relevant, and important topics such as Racism, Substance Abuse, Alcoholism, Anger Management, and many more!
While Birdie is the main character she doesn't completely outshine all of the characters, like a lot of YA books do.
I felt like I knew each and every character, with what they were feeling and going through. And, I'm personally someone who really enjoys a character-driven story more than a plot-driven one. However, I did feel like the plot was lacking a little and it was a little too simple for me. So if you're someone who doesn't enjoy a simpler plot, beware.
This book was being pitched for fans of Nina La Cour and Nicola Yoon. I have yet to read a book by Nina La Cour, but I definitely think the romance in this novel has a Nicola Yoon vibe.
I highly recommend this book if you like YA contemporary.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
4.5 - A great YA contemporary about family, relationships, and the impact that addiction can have on a family. I loved how sex-positive this book was, it was also great to see how much queer & ace rep there was within the side characters. The story has some twists and dramatic moments, but it always feels believable and doesn’t get into the territory of melodrama. I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a nice YA with romance in addition to some more serious topics.
Dove "Birdie" Randolph works hard, trying to please her parents. Then, she falls for Booker, a classmate and friend of Laz, her best friend and the son of her mother's partner in their Chicago hair salon. Booker lost his temper once, following the death of his mother, badly beating his football coach so spent time in juvenile detention. Dove can't tell her parents, but along comes her cool Aunt Carlene, who is dealing with her own disease, substance abuse, who she learns to trust. Dove gets in over her head, and skates because of her wholesome background, but things go harder on Booker and Laz because of who they are and the color of their skin. Then, family secrets shake the Randolphs to their very foundation. 3.5 stars, but I rounded down because the secret was pretty obvious and has been done before. The book does a nice job of dealing with LGBTQ and addiction issues.
This was my first book by Brandy Colbert and I was excited to start it. This covers some serious topics and also has quite a bit of diversity. However, what kept me from really loving this book were the characters and the lack of plot.
This book just follows along with Birdie’s everyday life while she manages love, family, and finding out about herself. For the most part, I did like Birdie. She came off as an average teenager. Really naïve, but still an average teenager.
I can’t say that I connected with any character here sadly. I didn’t grow up the same as Birdie so when I say I that I didn’t really like her family, you have to take that from a different point of view. My parents were never strict and never forced me to do things that I didn’t love. Also, I think the worst to me was her mother. She super judgmental and pushed her beliefs onto Birdie. I think that teenagers should get to form their own opinions about the world, not just what their parents want them to. The best character to me was her aunt Carlene. While she was NOWHERE near perfect, she didn’t let the bad days win and she really pushed herself to finally be on the recovery road that she wanted to be.
We did get a bit of a romance here and I really enjoyed our love interest, Booker. He was sweet and someone that Birdie really paired well with. I would have loved to see more about the two of them.
I think the best part of this novel was how much diversity we received. There were so many discussions of race, sexual orientation, and also dealing with alcoholism. It didn’t feel forced and was thrown into even regular conversation between characters.
To wrap up my review, while I wasn’t wowed by my first Brandy Colbert read; I can see why her work is well loved in the book community. The characters and lack of plot are what held me back but I think that so many readers will enjoy this one.
TW: Alcoholism; talk of drug use
✨I received an ARC via The Novl for an honest review.
I finished this book last night and I’m still a bit stunned! The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is such a quietly beautiful and powerful story, written with a level of finesse and nuance that is frankly quite enviable for those of us with writing aspirations.
Birdie is an interesting, relatable character! She’s the kind of person you can see yourself as — or that you’d want to be friends with. And this is HER story. The title has it exactly right - this story is about a revolution, but it’s one that takes place internally. This is a story of identity, of teenage struggles, of family. It’s the story of a black girl in Chicago learning who she is, what she wants, and who she wants to be.
There’s something refreshing about picking up a story like this — one that’s narrowly focused on one character and the people in her life. I zipped through it! I found myself so invested in Birdie - far more than I usually am in any character, and I wanted so badly for everything to go right for her. Her frustrations became mine and she felt so real to me that it’s still a bit hard to believe Birdie and everyone she knows exist only between the pages of a book!
My only word of caution would be to anyone expecting a complicated plot. I enjoyed every moment of the story (there were no slow points) and I think the simpler plot fits the story wonderfully, so just a note.
I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in diverse read with quiet intensity, own voices YA lit, character-driven stories that make you think, and second chances.
Free advanced copy provided by TheNOVL in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I want to start this review by clarifying that a 3 star rating does not mean this was a bad book by any means. I really enjoyed listening to this on audio. I liked the characters, the secrets, and the flawed reality of Birdie's life. I enjoyed the diverse representation, and I enjoyed the discussion about addiction and how it affects people's lives.
This wasn't a life changing novel, but it was enjoyable. I think others will enjoy it too, especially if you like contemporary stories.
This is my first time reading a full length novel by Brandy Colbert and I am truly impressed with her writing. I have read short stories in anthologies by this author which I enjoyed but this book was next level. We are introduced to Dove aka Birdie who is struggling with being the perfect daughter but also wants to enjoy being a teen. While reading I would think back on my teenage days. How you want to please your parents and do as they say but you also want to do things your own way and make mistakes along the way. Throughout this story there are some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting and it made my jaw drop. At the end of the day we all make mistakes and no one is perfect. This was a well written coming of age story about discovering yourself, carving your own path, redemption and forgiveness. I loved the diversity of the characters as well. I wish I had books like these when I was growing up. I will be making it my business to read Colbert’s backlog and see what I have been missing all these years!
Colbert's got a LOT going on in this one, but it works. Dove (Birdie) bucks her parents' extreme pressure and high expectations to pursue a forbidden love as well as relationship with her estranged Aunt, who has a long history of addiction. While in the midst of discovering who she is and who she wants to become, Birdie stumbles across a long-hidden family secret that threatens to tear everyone apart. Kudos to Brandy Colbert, who kept my eyes glued to these pages like Elmer's to a Kindergartner's sticky little fingers. Read this one in less than a day's time as part of Bout of Books 26.
I LOVED this book. For me it was the book that I wanted when I was a teenager. A coming of age novel about a young black girl in today’s world. The story touches on so many things but none of them overshadow the main story. I definitely recommend it. 🙂
Brandy always seems to write the important social issues and considering the recent win against J&J for their role in the opioid crisis, a book about the impacts of substance use disorders seems relevant. Birdie jumped right off the page and into my heart, as I am sure she will yours!
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is a coming-of-age story about a sixteen-year-old girl who experiences a lot of changes in one summer and it deals with family, secrets, first loves, and addiction. Dove was the youngest of two girls. Her mother ran a hair salon and her father was a team physician for a professional basketball team. She had everything she could want and her parents had very high expectations for her and her older sister, Mimi. Her mother made her quit soccer because there was no chance of her playing in college and she’s expected to take an SAT class over the summer. Her life was structured and she was expected to behave but just before the summer, Dove met a boy, Booker, who she knew her parents would never approve of and her aunt, Carlene who she doesn’t remember ever meeting has come back into her life. These two events seem to have Dove questioning her life and why everything is so structured. She starts breaking the rules and even drinks. The story progresses from there with Dove’s relationships with Carlene and Booker strengthening. She has to learn some hard truths and realise if she isn’t the one to demand what she wants, then she’ll never get it.
I have to discuss the fact that this is a book about a black girl and her family. This book was reminiscent of the kinds of the books I devoured as a kid by authors like Walter Dean Myers and Sharon M. Draper. Colbert did an amazing job of showing all facets of the black community and sexual preferences as well, which made it diverse and inclusive to a group of people who are not always represented in literature. Colbert did an excellent job of showing that and I was able to relate to a lot of what was going on in the book. This story was well written and really explored multiple hard topics and touched on gay and queer issues as well as black issues.
I loved Dove from the beginning and I loved how this was a summer book about finding your voice and yourself separate from the expectations of your family. It was great seeing her grow into someone who spoke up for herself but still knew how to forgive when something wrong was done to her. She was relatable and you’ll be rooting for her throughout the book. I liked Carlene from the moment she showed up and how open and honest she was with Dove from the start. Their bond seemed to grow quickly and she was there for Dove when she needed her. I also enjoyed Booker, Laz, Mimi, and Greg too. The romance between Dove and Booker was sweet and I loved seeing how they explored what they had in the limited time they had to do so. It was clear that they really cared for one another. I liked how protective but open Mimi was with Dove. She cared for her little sister. Laz and Dove’s friendship was amazing as well and I liked how they could talk to each other about anything and how he helped her as she tried to find herself over the summer.
Dove’s relationship with her parents was more complicated; more so with her mother than with her father. Her mother seemed to have very high expectations for Dove and her older sister and she expected them to do things exactly the way she thought they should be done them. Her father seemed to go along with what Dove’s mother thought was best. He worked a lot but their relationship was sweet and I loved seeing the two of them together. I thought the group of characters in The Revolution of Birdie Randolph was unique and kept the reader engaged throughout the entire story.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph was another perfect summer read! This was such a powerful story that showed the importance of family, forgiveness, and finding your own voice and doing your own thing within the rules created by parents. Dove had to learn how to demand what it was she wanted from life and remain respectful while doing it. She discovered first love, family secrets that shook up her world, and her voice and wants. This was another great coming of age story that I’ve read so far this year!
This author really knows what she is doing! I’ve loved everything that she has written and this novel is definitely not any different. This novel is about our main character named Birdie who is trying to find out who she is in life. We watch Birdie go through some heartbreaking times and some absolutely fun rides through the teenage life. The ending really shocked me but, it made the book even better. As always her writing is beautiful and I feel like I’m right there with each of her main characters.
Have you ever fallen in love with a book from the moment you saw its cover? I spotted Brandy Colbert's The Revolution of Birdie Randolph on my Goodreads timeline and I immediately knew I had to read it. Even better? The book promised to deal with issues such as addiction, incarceration and growing up black or gay in Chicago.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph absolutely lives up to its promises and is my first easy five-star read in what feels like an age.
Sixteen-year-old Dove "Birdie" Randolph is serious about her future and ready to toe the line her parents have drawn for her. She's given up football to focus on her grades and she has also fallen in love with Booker. The only problem? Birdie's parents definitely won't like Booker or his brush with the law.
The quiet, respectable Randolph household is turned upside-down when Birdie's recovering-addict aunt Carlene comes to stay with them. As Carlene does all she can to make this time count, Birdie can't help but notice the tension increasing in the household. What secrets are the adults all keeping?
I love books that are effortlessly diverse and where characters just are, as opposing to being poster children for their labels. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is one of those books. Birdie's sister Mimi is gay, rocking a series of fades and haircuts that had me wanting to chop my own hair off. Birdie's best friend Laz is also gay, as was his father, and is working through his own set of issues in coming out to his family.
The more I think about it, the more taken I am by this rich, vibrant story. There is so much that happens in this book, so many issues faced, yet rather than feeling too full like some books might, it rather feels like I've spent two weeks in an immersive film. It is indeed rare that characters pop off the page for me like this but I'm especially eager to read more of Brandy Colbert's work now.
There is a great reveal in the book and moments of heartache but on the whole, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is an uplifting, thoroughly enjoyable novel that I'd love to see on screen one day.
I give The Revolution of Birdie Randolph a superb five out of five stars and recommend to lovers of diverse, superior YA fiction.