Review of Summer Blue Bird by Akemi Dawn Bowman (digital arc)




Summer Blue Bird by Akemi Dawn Bowman


Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.


My Review:


I haven’t read Starfish yet, so this is my first book by Akemi Dawn Bowman.  I really loved the writing and emotion in it.


Rumi and Lea were not only sisters, but best friends.  Rumi was often times jealous of Lea because she was happy and easy to love.  Rumi wasn’t the type to show her emotions easily.  She was more responsible.  But they loved each other and had a bound through music.  They used to write songs by picking three words.  When a car accident claims Lea’s life, Rumi is devastated.  Her mom isn’t functioning well, so Rumi goes to Hawaii with her aunt.


“The only thing that’s dull and gray and dark in Hawaii is me.  There’s no color left in my soul, just like there’s no music left in there either.”


Rumi is struggling with her grief.  She is mostly angry at everyone and everything.  She can’t write, but she promises that she will write a song for the last three words the girls came up with together.  Summer Blue Bird.  Rumi finds comfort in an odd way.  There is an elderly neighbor with an annoying dog that she starts to visit.  He’s grumpy and she recognizes that he lost someone close to him, too.  Slowly she starts listening to music with him and then playing it.  But she’s still stuck with her song.


Another neighbor is a teen, Kai.  Rumi finds him attractive, but she’s not attracted to anyone in the dating sense.  Just for friendship.  This was another thing that she struggled with throughout the book.  Defining her sexuality.  Rumi hangs out with Kai and his friends and starts feeling comfortable.  Even happy.  Until she feels guilty for living her life when Lea is not able to.


Music is such a big part of the story and I loved how the author wrote about it.  Some of my favorite quotes included something about music.


“But those are the feelings I get from music.  Can I just be in love with music?  Because music is a carnival at night, lit up by a thousand stars and bursting with luminescent colors and magical illusions.  Music is magic and lightning and fireworks.  Music is going to help me live.  I just need to find my way back to it.”


Rumi’s grief felt so real.  She would start to get better and things would get bad again.  Especially since her mother isn’t there.  She feels abandoned.  Rumi always felt that her mother loved Lea more.  She was often times jealous of her sister.  Now she feels guilty for being alive and she doesn’t know how she can live a life without the one person who really understood her.  The one person who loved her so much.


“Grief is a monster-not everyone gets out alive, and those who do might only survive in pieces.”


I liked everyone in the book and the Hawaii setting.  The ocean and surfing parts were perfect.  The friendships worked so well.  I especially loved Rumi’s relationship with both neighbors.  She found something she needed from both of them, and they needed her, too.


I gave this book 4  1/2 stars (rounded up to 5).  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for giving me a copy for review.


All quotes are taken from an arc and may change before final publication.



Have you read Summer Blue Bird yet?  What about Starfish?  


Author: confessionsofayareader

I'm Kristi. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma. I have been breeding leopard geckos for ten years. I love to read and have been trying to review more books (the reason for this blog besides wanting to talk about books with everyone). I also love music and going to concerts, mostly punk and pop punk.

8 thoughts on “Review of Summer Blue Bird by Akemi Dawn Bowman (digital arc)”

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