Bound To Stay Bound

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 Birdie and me
 Author: Nuanez, J. M. M.

 Publisher:  Puffin Books (2021)

 Classification: Fiction
 Physical Description: 252 p.,  22 cm

 BTSB No: 683989 ISBN: 9780399186776
 Ages: 10-14 Grades: 5-9

 Siblings -- Fiction
 Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction
 Sex role -- Fiction
 Uncles -- Fiction
 Home -- Fiction

Price: $6.55

Ever since their free-spirited mama died ten months ago, twelve-year-old Jack and her gender creative nine-year-old brother, Birdie, have been living with their fun-loving Uncle Carl, but now their conservative Uncle Patrick insists on being their guardian which forces all four of them to confront grief, prejudice, and loss, all while exploring what 'home' really means.

Accelerated Reader Information:
   Interest Level: MG
   Reading Level: 4.80
   Points: 8.0   Quiz: 510458

Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 12/01/2019 Since their mother’s recent death, Jack and her little brother, Birdie, have been living with their hapless uncle Carl, until his truancy leads to guardianship being transferred to their aloof uncle Patrick. Now, in Patrick’s house in their mother’s former hometown, Jack and Birdie must cope with her death, while building a new life—and a new family—among a seemingly resentful guardian and townspeople who aren’t all tolerant of Birdie’s gender nonconformity. Nuanez’s debut tells an endearing story of family in the wake of tragedy, anchored by the wonderfully loving and supportive relationship between Jack and Birdie. Told through Jack’s first-person point of view and intercut by pages from her observation journal that provide the occasional poetic flourish, the prose flows seamlessly and the dialogue feels undeniably real. In a book less concerned with plot, it’s this veracity of character, along with Jack’s accepting perspective, that will make it easy for readers to relate to Birdie as he explores identity and gender creativity—his preference for traditionally feminine clothing and cosmetics—on the page. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 01/01/2020 Gr 3–7—When their mama died in a car accident, Jack and her younger brother, Birdie, moved in with their kind, if irresponsible, Uncle Carl. But after 10 months of convenience store food and sporadic school attendance, Carl's estranged brother, Patrick, must take them in. Emotionally distant Patrick, whom Birdie calls "a clam," may cook them proper meals, but he does not understand Birdie's gender creative identity and interest in fashion, or the children's complicated feelings about their erratic mother, her mental illness, and her death. In short notebook entries scattered throughout the novel, Jack observes the adults governing her life and the grief that animates them. Nuanez excels in depicting a complex family dynamic filtered through a child's perception. More than anything else, this novel captures the children's feelings of powerlessness when decisions about where they live, what they wear, and who they can even visit are made by imperfect adult guardians. Also addressed are gender nonconformity, bullying, and adults' misguided solutions to both, in a refreshingly frank and thoughtful way that always centers the children's perspectives and understanding of themselves. As Jack, Birdie, and their uncles stumble toward mutual understanding, they build a community of supportive people—imperfect, unsure, but trying their best. VERDICT This singular story of a grieving and unconventional family belongs alongside Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting by 7s, Cindy Baldwin's Where the Watermelons Grow, and Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish. Highly recommended.—Molly Saunders, Manatee County Public Libraries, Bradenton, FL - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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