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3.17  ·  Rating details ·  486 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
"Those of us who love Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie will now have to make room next to it on our shelves for Joshua Gaylord's winning debut." —Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

"Hummingbirds positively glistens with erudition and insight. Whether writing about prep school girls or the adult men who walk among them, G
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published October 1st 2009)
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Rating details
Sort: Default
I just learned that Joshua Gaylord and Alden Bell are one and the same. This is way different from zombies but I have to check it out.

Okay, so now I've read it. It's possible I would have given this book 4 stars if I weren't reading it on the heels of Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell. I could find no commonalities in writing style between the two. Gaylord said as much in a review. He took on the name Alden Bell when he wrote The Reapers... because he knew he was writing for a different audience. Fans
Joshua Gaylord is a fantastic writer. There are paragraphs in Hummingbirds that I reread 2 and even 3 times because they were just so well written as to warrant it. For the use of the word "palimpsest", which is one of my favorites and criminally underutilized, 10 points are awarded in my book. However, just as man does not live on bread alone, the author does not work with words alone, he must also be a storyteller. This, in my opinion is where Gaylord is less strong.[return][return]I have to a ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a former all-girls school student at a New York City prep school, I was probably more engaged by this book and for longer than I would have been if I weren't compelled naturally by the subject matter. It was an interesting exploration of the awkward tension between the often-rare male teachers and the adolescent girls at schools like this but the writer seems to suffer from a poor balance between "showing" and "telling" - too often, he manhandles his characters into forced revelations and mom ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretentious English teachers, the Liz Warrens of the world
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Overly crafted, pretentious, writerly writing. I suppose I'm not "Liz Warren" enough to get it. Honestly, from the character names to the neurotic main character...what was there to like? Everything in this book took forever and yet...nothing happened. Some characters seemed to be forgotten by the end. I couldn't care about anyone, even when I wanted to.

I can just see this book forced upon an English class somewhere, as the only people I think would like it are sadistic Englis
I think JG is a better writer than this is a book, and I would recommend it to someone who can enjoy a book for its prose even if they aren't really enthusiastic about the characters or plot. I do think it works well as a character study of a man who is dealing with growing up (as an adult), identity and jealousy -- but the circumstances are a bit contrived and it's never a total delight to read a book with no character you can just outright love. Not a strong recommendation, but I'd borrow it o ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.) Horribly poetic. Too many metaphors.
2.) Each chapter started without any indication as to who was speaking, thinking, observing, etc.
3.) As a teacher, I was very uncomfortable with the parts of the book that implied teachers are attracted to their students.
4.) Constantly predictable. You know exactly what's going to happen way before it happens. Makes for a very boring read.
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Dani by: Borders Going Out of Business Sale
Shelves: contemporary, fiction
It took me a long time to finish this book. That's pretty normal for me, since I am a student and generally have a lot of reading on my plate to do that isn't just for fun. However, I had to actually goad myself to keep reading this book instead of reading another because I just didn't see the point in it. Sure, there was conflict, but I wasn't sure where the book was trying to go with it.

I also had a problem with some of the character development. Although the book tried to get me to sympathize
Emily Crow
I didn't care for Hummingbirds. It's a novel about teachers and students at an exclusive all girls prep school in New York City, and about the gossip, jealousy and speculation that runs rampant after a new male teacher joins the faculty. Once again, I have to concede that the book wasn't bad, per se, although I found it rather tedious.

My internal conversations tended to go like this:

Would I rather watch Desperate Housewives on Netflix or read more of Hummingbirds? (Housewives won.)
Would I rather
I had a lot of thoughts about this book but still cannot put all of them into words but first I would like to say I like the voices of the book. It is very contemporary. Even though there is a lot of poetic scandal (?) in the book you are never quite on anyones side and that is what I liked most about the book. You didn't hate anyone nor did you feel bad for anyone. Things just happened and I never really felt against anyone and I thought that was kinda nice.

It's nice to read a book for pleasur
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
530 Book Club
This man [Joshua Gaylord/Alden Bell] can write a menu and I will read it. I want to be him when I grow up. I want to write like him. He is my hero.
I picked this book up because I thought the cover looked old, but it turns out it was published in 2009. Huh. The word that comes to mind is "labored". It had an interesting story, but every page had about fifty metaphors and similes and every detail felt so conspicuously placed so that the reader could pick it out and savor the meaninglessness or something. As if it wasn't enough that the book is by an English teacher and about an English teacher, the main character thinks of his life as if he ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jess by: Adults and teens alike
Shelves: setting-academia
I've been reading a lot of books this summer. And since I love writing reviews on Goodreads, I've been looking for ways to make my reviews more comprehensive. So I've started carrying my little yellow and black Charlie Brown spiral notebook and a pencil with me wherever I'm reading my current book and jotting down ideas, likes and dislikes, themes, and quotes to put in my reviews. It has been very useful, and I planned to continue with my writing while I read Hummingbirds.

But unfortunately, I d
Colleen Rockafellow
Very descriptive with most of the book taking place in the minds of the characters. I felt empathy towards Binhammer and confusion when others were upset with him. Ted Hughes just seems like a teengager himself and I found their friendship unlikely in the real world. The girls of the prep school seemed more adjusted than the instructors teaching them.
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leo Binhammer is an English instructor at Carmine-Casey Academy, a private high school for girls. Adored and admired, Leo finds great contentment and solace in his profession as the only male teacher in the English department, doting girls following his every move. But Leo's world is disrupted when, one day, a charismatic new teacher named Ted Hughes arrives. This teacher is also a young and attractive man, and although he is friendly and amiable, Leo begins to feel displaced from his high perch ...more
Susan McGilvray
Jul 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Note to author:
Not all high school girls have alliterative names.
Not all male high school teachers have a sexually charged classroom.
Audiobook narrators should pronounce all words correctly.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have no words for this Lolita-esque, teen gossip novel.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Great writing but too slow for me, no plot :(
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
It could get wordy at times, but overall beautifully written and not predictable in the same way of most bildungsroman pieces.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as entertaining as I had hoped.
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I first encountered Joshua Gaylord in a zombie novel (this is me so really that fact should not be surprising) however his name then was not Gaylord but rather Bell. It says something about a book when it is so good that you simply cannot help but look up the author and their history. It turned out that Alden Bell had not always been Alden but instead had been Joshua. " The reapers are the angels" also wasn't his debut novel, but rather his second one. All of this of course, had me ordering his ...more
I actually abandoned this book after a few chapters. Having lived through NYC private schools, I just found it too annoying to revisit the people and circumstances.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel takes place in the backdrop of an elite girls' day school in Manhattan, the Carmine-Casey School for Girls. Here we find a heated and flurrying mixture of adolescent girls, the men and women who teach them, and the occasional visitors from the local boys school.

As in every school, there are stars. The star students here are Dixie Doyle, the lollipop sucking, pigtail wearing popular student with her cadre of followers. There is also Liz Warren, the studious, non-smiling student w
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Short of It:

A perfect mix of wit and self-doubt.

The Rest of It:

Carmine-Casey is a swank, all-girl prep school in Manhattan. There, girls like Dixie Doyle and Liz Warren walk the hallways, somewhat innocent of the effect they have on others but at the same time, aware that somewhere within them, lies the power to take grown men down.

Enter Leo Binhammer. Binhammer, as he is affectionately called, is the only male teacher in the English department and prides himself on the fact that nearly ever
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Book Tours
Shelves: 2010-reads
Why I wanted to read this book:

* I was totally intrigued by the dynamics of an all-girls school and seeing it from the male teacher perspective.

What worked for me:

* Have you ever read a book that you really really liked, but yet you had an incredibly hard time describing it well enough to someone else so that they would be excited about it too?? Yep, this is one of those books.

* Call me crazy, but about 50 pages into this book I was vividly reminded of the movie 'The Virgin Suicides.' There i
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Leo Binhammer is one of the few male faculty at an all-girls Prep school in New York. And he's the only one of an 'agreeable' age to the students. That's until Ted Hughes shows up on the scene. He eventually rises in the girls' opinion, not usurping Binhammer, but certainly taking away much of his attention. An interesting relationship grows between the two men, even more abstract due to several points in both their pasts.

I don't want to write a synopsis so I won't go any farther. Other people
Joshua Gaylord is Alden Bell, the writer of my beloved "Reapers" Duology, once I figured that out I knew I had to check out his contemporary writing asap.
The parallels are obvious: the best thing about "Hummingbirds" is its writing, God, the guys is good. Less gruesome here but just as insightful, beautiful and touching. Gaylord has a hand for details in his characters and writes wonderful little scenes of interaction between them and great observations on them. Some scenes in here were so good
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students and teachers of English, people who like metaphors
Recommended to Susan by: Amazon, I think
Shelves: wish-list, 2010read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Failla Earhart
I’m glad I’m not Joshua Gaylord. Imagine the pressure of being EdgarAward-winning novelist Megan Abbot’s husband. Yikes! But ya gotta give Gaylord credit for trying and having a good start.
In his debut novel, Hummingbirds, Gaylord sets his contemporary story at an exclusive all-girls prep school in New York City. It seems much like the one he has taught at for the past nine years. Write what you know, they say.
Gaylord does take a chance in this work by not writing the story from one of the girl
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Joshua Gaylord lives in New York. Since 2000, he has taught high school English at an Upper East Side prep school (a modern orthodox co-educational Yeshiva). Since 2002, he has also taught literature and cultural studies courses as an adjunct professor at the New School. Prior to coming to New York, he grew up in the heart of Orange County: Anaheim, home of Disneyland. He graduated from Berkeley w ...more
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“Of Dixie Doyle it is said that she could convince grown men of anything. While she is only a mediocre student and a wholly untalented tennis player, she possesses a quality of performed girlishness that turns sex into a ragged paradox for men beyond the age of thirty. She speaks with the hint of a babyish lisp, the pink end of her tongue frequently peeking out from between her teeth, but her eyes are implacable fields of gray that at any moment could conceal everything you imagine - or nothing at all. She might be an X-ray registering the skeleton of your soul, or, like Oscar Wilde's women, she might be a sphinx without a secret.” 4 likes
“It was impossible to tell how she felt. When she tried to look inside of herself, all she saw were tangled things shifting in and out of focus.” 2 likes
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