Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel by Gayle Brandeis (HarperCollins Publishers) Gayle Bradeis weaves together a multi-layered story of a young woman coming to terms with her mother’s unspeakable past, her search for her own identity, and the burgeoning sense of responsibility she feels to save an endangered environment.

Winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize, an award that supports a literature of social responsibility, The Book of Dead Birds is the intimate portrait of a young woman at a defining moment in her life who stands at the intersection of two cultures and races.

Ava Sing Lo has been accidentally killing her mother's beloved birds since she was a little girl. All of her life, Ava has sensed that her mother, often depressed and withdrawn, is ashamed of her past and her daughter's dark skin. Now, having just finished her graduate work, Ava leaves her native San Diego for the Salton Sea , where she volunteers to help environmental activists save thousands of birds poisoned by agricultural run-off. Somehow, through this act, she also hopes to repair her fragile relationship with her mother.

Helen, Ava's mother, strangely impassive and emotionally scarred, has been haunted by her past for decades. As a young girl in Korea , Helen was drawn into prostitution on a segregated American army base. Several brutal years passed before a young white American soldier married her and brought her to California . When she gave birth to a black baby, her new husband abandoned her, and she was left to fend for herself and her daughter in a foreign country.

With beauty and lyricism, The Book of Dead Birds captures this struggle to come to terms with the past while searching for one’s own place in the world. This mother-daughter story resonates across cultures and through generations. Laced throughout with fascinating details about the history and culture of Korea , The Book of Dead Birds is an earnest, sad, and funny debut novel, at its best in the finely detailed portrait of the emotional tug-of-war between mother and child.

Headline 3

insert content here