Thursday 29 June 2017

Review on If Birds Fly Back

When Linny sees Alvaro Herrera, a writer who disappeared three years ago, and who was presumed to be dead alive and kicking, she is eager to talk to him. Linny's older sister, Grace, left home with no explanation, and Linny is desperate to find her. Maybe if she can discover why Alvaro came back, she can find a way to bring Grace back too. However, her plans are thwarted when she meets Sebastian, a boy who has his own reasons for wanting to talk to Alvaro. Linny and Sebastian soon learn that they have both lost someone important to them, but will Alvaro really be able to help them both?

I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not, as although the main plot sounded interesting, I could tell that romance would play a big part of it. The book follows Linny, a girl who's older sister, Grace, has left home with no explanation as to where she is going, or why she left. When Linny starts volunteering at a care home during the summer, she meets Alvaro Herrera, an eighty year old author who had gone missing for three years, and who everyone thought was dead. Linny wants to find out why missing people return, and believes that Alvaro will be able to help her.

I loved how each chapter alternated point of views between Linny and Sebastian, giving us a personal insight into the mind of each character. I loved how a few of the scenes were repeated so that we could see the same event from both characters viewpoint. I felt as if this worked well when one of the characters had information that the other didn't, which led them to experience certain events differently.

The main characters being POC was great, and I especially loved that both Alvaro and Sebastian were bilingual. I particularly loved Alvaro being bilingual, as forgetting certain words in English and finding them in Spanish gave us an early indication that something wasn't quite right with him. I felt that the lack of LGBT+ characters let the book down in terms of diversity, as all we had was the token LGBT+ friend, who was Linny's best friend's friend. I felt as if him not being straight was just the authors sad attempt at throwing a LGBT+ character into the book. The fact that Linny initially thought that Ray was dating her best friend Cass, but then apparently had an on off boyfriend that we never actually meet showed that little thought had gone into his character, as aside from being the only character who isn't heterosexual, his only other role seemed to be driving Linny to various places.

So of course I have to talk about the romance between Linny and Sebastian, which I'm actually a little conflicted on. I did find certain things adorable, even if they were incredibly cheesy, and felt as if they had come straight out of a Disney Channel Original movie. Although it was pretty much instalove, I felt as if their relationship developed in a natural way, and didn't move too quickly. However, one of my most hated ways of creating character conflict crept up, miscommunication. I couldn't understand why Linny would keep information from Sebastian that he would obviously want to know. Although her excuse was that she didn't want to hurt his feelings, I knew from the minute she decided not to tell him that it would create problems between them later on. I felt as if the book didn't really need so much drama between them, and it felt as if the author had just decided there needed to be conflict, rolled a dice and picked miscommunication. I did think that certain scenes made up for it from pure adorableness, such as the stars scene, but I also felt as if the scenes where they were intimate with each other focused too much on what was happening physically, rather than on the characters emotions.

The storyline involving Alvaro was heart breaking, and I found it really sad that he felt like he had to hide from the world so that people would remember him for what he was like before he had dementia. As someone who had a family member with dementia, I always find these types of story lines upsetting, and I felt sorry for both Alvaro and Sebastian. I was sad that Sebastian never got to tell Alvaro what he wanted to, but I also felt as if it was realistic, and had more of an impact than if he had told him. It did make me wonder if Alvaro knew who Sebastian was, and as everything else was solved, I loved that this was left open for interpretation.

I thought Linny's character development was great, and I loved how she started out wanting Grace to come home, and trying to find ways to bring her back, to eventually letting her go and accepting she was probably never coming back. I adored how we got a bit of Linny's screenplay that she had been writing at the end of her chapters, and I felt as if it gave a good insight to how she felt about Grace leaving. I loved the wings metaphor, and how Linny felt as if Grace had taken all the colour from the world with her, and how Linny eventually rediscovered colour without Grace.

Although I loved both Linny and Sebastian, I felt as if their personalities didn't really stand out from other contemporary YA characters. There are always those characters who you discover and fall in love with who end up being one of your all time favourite characters. Unfortunately I don't think Linny and Sebastian are unique enough for that, and sadly I will probably forget all about them in a few months. The only character who stood out for me was Alvaro, as I loved his unique personality, and I wanted things to get better for him. I feel as if we need more grandfatherly figures in YA novels, and although Alvaro had made some mistakes in his life, I loved that he tried to make up for them.

I found this book to be a fairly quick read, and I overall enjoyed the main plot, and felt as if it gave some important messages, particularly about following a career path you want, rather than doing what your parents want you to do. Although the romance wasn't really for me, I feel as if anyone who actually enjoys cute and cheesy teen romance would love it. I don't normally give books half ratings, but I think I would give this one a 3.5

If Birds Fly Back is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

1 comment:

  1. This one is forever wavering on and off my TBR - mainly because I don't read contemporaries all that often. I've only ever seen people rave about it, so it's interesting to see why you didn't enjoy it so much! Sorry you didn't love it though!