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Boy, Snow, Bird

     by Oyeyemi, Helen

Boy, Snow, Bird

In Helen Oyeyemi's adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale set in the 1960s, appearances are never what they seem. Boy Novak is in her twenties when she runs away from her New York City home and the father who has beaten her since childhood. She finds a new place to live in Flax Hill, a town of artisans, and soon marries a widowed jewelry-maker and becomes stepmother to Snow, his young daughter. But Boy's husband and his family have been hiding something -- they are African-Americans, who, for decades, have been keeping their true identities secret from the people of Flax Hill. When Bird is born with dark skin, the family's struggle with identity and race are brought to light. After the birth of Bird, Boy begins to fear and distrust the beautiful, angelic Snow and sends her away to live with relatives. She keeps the sisters separated for as long as she can, until Bird one day decides to take matters into her own hands.  

Boy, Snow, Bird is a completely unique experience that pulls the reader into a fable-like trance. Oyeyemi has set up a world that feels like a fairy-tale, but that suffers from the same racial and gender issues and tensions that we do in our real world. Each character has a unique and distinct voice told in beautiful prose that will sweep the reader away.

Reviewed by ep, 04/14. Other reviews by ep.