It’s been a tough week.
Last Sunday I tore my meniscus.
Tuesday’s election results weren’t what I had hoped they’d be.
And Thursday the world learned that Leonard Cohen had passed.
I needed some bibliotherapy.
I found solace in Monika Schröder’s Be Light Like a Bird.
Publisher’s Summary:After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t seem to deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.
This is a book that quotes Paul Valéry and Leonard Cohen!
The title comes from the Valéry quote meaning we need to determine our own future and fly like a bird, not let ourselves drift like a feather.
“One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather.” / ”Il faut être léger comme l’oiseau, et non comme la plume”
Yes, this was just what I needed and it will be my book talk on Monday, and here’s why.
First of all, I loved Wren. Told in the first person from Wren’s point of view, her voice just sounds so authentic, I felt like I really knew this girl and would have been her friend when I was her age. I wasn’t one of the popular girls, either. I felt her pain and grief and wished someone would help her deal with her grief.
I loved her friendship with Theo. I love middle grade because the romance doesn’t get in the way of the real story. Their relationship unfolded in a way that felt realistic for middle school kids.
I loved the fact that she and Theo become teen activists. As this is our next writing unit, I am very excited to share this with my students.
I loved the realistic portrayal of grief: Wren’s, her mother’s, Theo’s, and his dad’s. We see the range of ways people deal with bereavement. It is complicated, messy and uncomfortable, but it is real.
Yeah, the ending maybe wrapped up just a little too perfectly, but I needed that this week. If you are feeling some grief these days, you might benefit from reading this book, too.
You might also benefit from a little Leonard Cohen. Four lines of “Anthem” are quoted in Light Like a Bird”, but I thought you might like to hear all of it.