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Starling Days

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Mina is staring over the edge of the George Washington Bridge when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the officers she's not about to jump but they don't believe her. Her husband, Oscar is called to pick her up.

Oscar hopes that leaving New York for a few months will give Mina the space to heal. They travel to London, to an apartment wall-papered with
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 11th 2019 by Sceptre
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  237 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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May 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I was attracted to this book on NetGalley (my thanks to the publisher for approving my request) by two things. Firstly, the book blurb says, Mina, a classicist, searches for solutions to her failing mental health using mythological women. and secondly a quote on the front cover says it is beautifully weird (I like books that are beautiful or weird, so both together sounded great).

Unfortunately, having now completed the book, I am not sure where either of those descriptions comes from. Yes, it is
Nikita Gill
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is so much brilliance in this beautiful book. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's writing is truly breathtaking. Rich, poignant prose, along with a gorgeous plot full of the complexity of human relationships make this book one of the best I have ever read.
(3.5) Buchanans second novel reprises many of the themes from her first, Harmless Like You, including art, mental illness, and having ones loyalties split across countries and cultures. Oscar and Mina have been together for over a decade, but their marriage got off to a bad start six months ago: on their wedding night Mina took an overdose, and Oscar was lucky to find her in time. The novel begins and ends with her contemplating suicide again; in between, Oscar takes her from New York City to ...more
Eric Anderson
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Earlier this year I read the moving memoir Mind on Fire in which the author recounts his experiences with manic-depression, suicidal thoughts and the destructive impact his mental health issues have upon his personal relationships. An experience similar to this is dramatically rendered in Rowan Hisayo Buchanans new novel Starling Days. Its the story of Mina and Oscar, a young married couple living in New York City who temporarily move to London so Oscar can help his father prepare some run-down ...more
Paula Bardell-Hedley
People said that drowning was a good death, that the tiny alveoli of the lungs filled like a thousand water balloons.
Rowan Hisayon Buchnan knows the sheer unrelieved monotony of depression. She sees the way in which it saps lifes colour and drives loved ones to despair. She understands these things because she has experienced first-hand the struggles of people very dear to [her] and [faced her own] challenges. In an Authors Note she says: Not everyone who is sad is sick but I have been sick
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am again stunned by the prowess in Buchanan's words. There are so many stand-out sentences that made me pause to consider how she's using the language in a way few would, but in a way that bleeds beauty through the page and deep into my writer's weary soul. In addition, the writing, and the story, has a dull, aching quality that stands out differently, allowing me to indulge in a hundred pages in a sitting as the main characters, husband and wife, remain in place, together but apart, pondering ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved Rowan Hisayo Buchanans debut novel, Harmless Like You, which focused on art dealer Jay and his estranged Japanese mother Yuki, flashing between Yuki's youth in 1960s New York and Jay's contemporary journey. What I found particularly fascinating about the way that Buchanan portrayed Yuki, who is determined to pursue a career as a visual artist, is that she hurts others so much precisely because she believes its impossible for her to have much impact on others lives; she believes nobody ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pansing, 2019-favs
In Starling Days, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan gets painfully real about mental health and the frustrations of loving and being with someone who is constantly fighting their sadness. She tells the story of a young married couple going through this struggle, exploring as well the desire to connect along with themes like sexuality and racial identity.

Buchanan used her own personal experiences when writing Starling Days, which may be why the depictions in the narrative can seem so familiar for some and so
Meneghin Livia
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Truly a beautiful story with characters as real as the people in my life. The writing is poignant and quiet at the same time, prose full of heart and truths. Highly recommend.

Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Disappointed, slightly. I had really high expectations for this one, 'Harmless like you' was for me one of the most important reads of last year. When I saw that new book of Rowan is on its way I instantly ordered it in pre-order. 'Starling days' has a lot to cherish, the writing is meticulous and slightly withheld as though so much more was happening behind the words that we encounter. The book tackles multiple important issues such as dealing with mental illness, relationships and their ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A simple yet beautifully written story of marriage and depression. I rarely say a book is 'important' but this one is. We need more books that explore depression without judgment. The dialogue rings with truth and the descriptions are vivid yet real.
There was a lot of reference to myth as the female protagonist, Mina is a researcher in Classics. These ancient stories were seamlessly woven with this contemporary tale.
Having finished this book, I feel I know the main characters Oscar and Mina so
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This book was really hard to read because I was going through the same illness as the main character Mia, Depression.

But the book is more than a book about Depression.

It's about immigration, marriage, relationships, infidelity and identity.

So many issues deftly packed into a fiction book is hard but Hisayo Buchanan captures it all masterfully.

I ended up finishing it quickly despite a slow start but it is a short enough read to be able to digest without scrimping on the story.
Kelsey Kim
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
LOVE LOVE LOVE. Everything about Starling Days is wonderful and perfect. Minas relationship with depression is refreshingly realistic, which in turn makes the novel hard to read at times as she thinks and acts in ways that felt very familiar. To lash out at those you love, to feel numb on the most important days of your life, to feel like your body begins to shut down and betray you, to know that deep down no matter how much you want to get better, youll always have this illness thats ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"If you are fighting with your own sadness or love someone who is, this note is for you." - Author's Note, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Rowan manages to present struggles with depression in a way only those who have lived it can. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Mina, and her husband, Oscar, Starling Days explores mental illness, sexuality, racial identity, and relationships in a very familiar and relatable way.

Still, her references to women in classical mythology adds an ethereal quality to the
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Rowan has managed to gift the world with a novel that explores the depths of human feeling in all its strangeness, mystery, irrationality and wonder. And, once again, she doesn't cast judgment, or feed her readers with a spoon - she trusts readers to plumb these characters and read into them as we would from our varying positionalities. Subtle, artful, with gloriously smooth sentences, Starling Days is hard to put down, even when it hurts.
Paul Hardwick
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A deeply moving and sensitive portrayal of love and mental illness.
Michael Fern
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most lyrical book I've read since Alan Hollinghurst's last, a great image on basically every page, yet still straightforwardly told, relatable and empathetic.
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Have you ever suffered from a mental illness, such as depression, and had someone you love tell you to 'just get over it?'.

Mina can you just try to be happy please?

It has been claimed that this book is about human relationships, and it is, but the main focus is around two people who come from different places, trying to have a relationship together, in the face of mental illness and with the other not understanding what that is like at all.

Has not explored one side of her bisexual nature.
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Starling Days is a novel about mental health, bisexuality, and how you can't be healed by a single person. Mina lives in New York City with her husband Oscar, who has to come and fetch her when she's found standing on the edge of a bridge and is unable to convince the officers she wasn't about to jump. A chance need for a trip and a desire to get away lead them to travel to London, where Oscar tries to sort out selling some flats for his father and Mina finds herself drawn to Phoebe, the sister ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a gorgeous novel!

The story opens with Mina looking over the George Washington Bridge. When the police pick her up they aren't convinced she wasn't going to jump. Her husband Oscar picks her up from the police station and decided she needs a change of scenery. So they leave New York and travel to London. Oscar hopes this time will help Mina's mental health, but she struggles. She finds herself becoming close with a woman, and their new found friendship tests her and Oscar's love.

Wendy Greenberg
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this novel captured the essence of depression well along with the ripples this spreads. Although the setting moves from New York to London to Seattle, it is a small focus story in the head of Mina, who constantly sits on the ledge of suicide.

Despite moving between continents, the reader is taken on a journey of discovery into Mina's mindset, how she behaves, how she does/doesn't take responsibility for herself and her actions. Alongside this we see her caring but careworn husband setting
Buchanan is a rising star. Harmless Like You was an incredible debut, so you can imagine my excitement when I managed to get an ARC of Starling Days. Reading this book felt like snuggling into a well-loved blanket; the characters and the plot were different different, but there was the easy familiarity of her writing style. Buchanan has a way with words that I cant adequately describe - I just find her work very readable and incredibly engaging. She creates extremely complex and flawed ...more
Feb 03, 2020 added it
Oh my goodness I don't know how to rate this book. Reading about a woman who isn't sure if she wants to live or not when she has so much- which does not impact on her thinking. But then that's what mental illness can do to you. So it was difficult to read but it was interesting especially when the chapters alternate between her life and that of her husband. Good balance. By the end I was really rooting for her.
Katie Mather
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Louise Paech
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2020
Kudos for tackling important topic of mental illness.
I just found the writing clunky, and I despised Mina. Spoiler alert. Sometimes she was just plain selfish. She had an affair because she wanted to. She had a choice to be loyal to her husband. Plus the ending really annoyed me. The only reason she was there for Oscar was because Phoebe ditched her.
Respected authors intentions. But, did not particularly like the book.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant I loved it. Could be depressing given some of the themes but actually not - the heroine is so engaging and warmly human. Some of the language is a little blunt and quite startling but that wasn't a problem for me. Not sure why the cover says "beautifully weird" though - there's nothing weird about it.
Alan O'Keeffe
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly beautiful. The characters in this novel are real. Buchanan achieves a great depiction of mental health and bisexuality. Dark, isolated and hopeful. I cannot wait to see what Buchanan does next!
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
i found minas storyline compelling and the portrayal of mental illness was well done, but i didnt connect with oscars story as much and there were some moments where the book really seemed to drag
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So delightful I devoured it in a day.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I like Harmless better though
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