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 Aching powerful and unflinchingly honest Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief unconditional love and how to forgive even when it feels impossible

10 thoughts on “Summer Bird Blue

  1. says:

    Wow I am so glad to finally be posting this review I was lucky enough to receive an ARC pretty far in advance and devoured it immediately because I loved Starfish so much but I gotta tell you guys this book? It blows Starfish out of the water This was one of the most heartbreaking gorgeous stories I have ever read and there is so much diversity I could honestly yell about it forever “I don’t want to hold hands or flirt or kiss And I don’t feel like I’m somehow less whole because I don’t want to date” First let’s go ahead and talk about the diverse representations in this book Rumi the narrator is not only multiracial Japanese Hawaiian and white but she’s also uestioning for the bulk of the book before tentatively coming out as both asexual and aromantic Among the side characters everyone is either Hawaiian Japanese Korean Samoan Filipino black or some combination of the above The Hawaiian locals also primarily speak Hawaiian pidgin English which added an incredible touch especially after having learned that Akemi Dawn Bowman learned to speak it from her own father I don’t think I’ll ever find another person in the entire world who understands me the way Lea does We’re the only two people in the universe who speak our language Second you need to know that this is a book almost solely dedicated to processing grief and the loss of a loved one If you cry at books ever you should probably have tissues on hand I was literally sobbing through so many chapters I don’t have a sibling and don’t know what losing one feels like but Rumi’s pain is so tangible As a mother my heart also broke so much for Rumi’s mother and the obvious struggles she was going through especially once she was able to talk to Rumi about what had happened and how it was affecting her mental health Grief is a monster—not everyone gets out alive and those who do might only survive in pieces Another thing Summer Bird Blue does so well is its depiction of how trauma affects our mental health and how important it is to seek help and to not vilify those who need assistance getting through difficult times Rumi spends much of the book determined to stay in this dark place she’s been sent to by her sister’s death but we get to watch her learn that it’s necessary to let people in and accept help in healing On top of that these side characters are incredible—they all feel so three dimensional and wonderful and I would honestly read companion novels about at least six of them She’s a shell A ghost I think her soul climbed into the coffin with Lea I wish mine had done the same One thing that I hope everyone will keep in mind while reading Summer Bird Blue as it releases is that Rumi does come across as a very coldhearted callous character for much of the book but she is human and she is grieving She has lost not only her sister and best friend in the world but she feels abandoned by her mother as well and everything has essentially combined to utterly break her by the time she reaches Hawaii’s shores Music used to be life and hope and everything happy Now it’s full of ghosts I think Rumi’s characterization is a poignant reminder that grief can destroy us all in different ways but just because we lash out doesn’t mean we are bad people—sometimes it just means we don’t have the proper tools to cope with what has happened to us The most beautiful aspect of her negative behavior though is how it gives the people in her life this opportunity to show how important it is whenever possible to stay by her side—they don’t give up on her but offer her their strength and support as much as they can no differently than any of us would do for our own loved ones What if music doesn’t belong to me any the way Lea doesn’t belong to this world? I know I’m rambling and this review has gone on way too long but this book just meant so much to me and it is imperative that I express to you how badly I want to see it and Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing career in general succeed in every way possible Please do yourself a favor pick up a copy of this book Pre order it ask your library to stock it for you whatever works—you won’t regret it All uotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release Thank you so much to Simon Pulse for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest reviewYou can find this review and on my blog or you can follow me on twitter bookstagram or facebook Buddy read with the ever lovable May 💖

  2. says:

    45 starsokay I cried and I rarely cry over any bookAkemi always writes the most beautiful personal meaningful hard hitting stories and this is just another one of them this one in particular means a lot to me because I have a younger sister and seeing Rumi go through the loss of her sister made me so emotionalthis is truly truly beautiful and I can’t wait for all of you to read it 💙💙note Rumi is mainly uestioning throughout the book at the end she figures that she would likely identify as asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum buddy read with this absolute ANGEL

  3. says:

    This is a crucial book on loss Raw real and deeply hopeful SUMMER BIRD BLUE follows Rumi Seto on her path to healing in idyllic Hawaii with the help of a grumpy old man and a bubbly new friend This book has solidly secured Akemi as one of my favourite contemporary YA authors I will read anything Akemi Dawn Bowman writesThe stand out element of this book for me was the aro ace representation in Rumi the likes of which I have never seen before the only ace rep I've found in contemporary YA has tended to be romantic ace and said character always ends up in a relationship Much of Rumi's journey in SUMMER BIRD BLUE explores her discovering and accepting her aro ace identity and she does NOT end up in a relationship by the end She made me feel strongly seen in a way I don't think I've ever felt before in a book and NORMAL too It didn't feel contrived at all it felt incredibly normal and valid I deeply admire and respect Akemi for making this choice because it would have been SO easy to let Rumi end up in a relationship with Kai But it makes a far interesting book because she doesn't I hope authors can follow suit in exploring the struggles faced by aro ace people and I hope publishers will continue to be willing to publish books about the intricacies and struggles of lesser understood ueer identities like this

  4. says:

    Maybe you don't have to know everything about yourself right this second Maybe you're still figuring it outI don't think girls should have to smile all the time in order to make other people think they're approachable Maybe girls don't want to be approachable to everybodyYour sexuality and how you identify is nobody else's business You can change your mind or not change your mind Those labels exist for you and not so that everyone else can try to force you into a box Especially if that box is their close minded idea of fucking normal

  5. says:

    “Of course it’s dark Life is dark It doesn’t care about anyone Yours just hasn’t gone to shit yet” 💖This was an emotional read but so full of love and hope Rumi and her sister Leah are best friends they both love music and plan to spend their future forming a band and making music together Their plans are destroyed when Leah dies in a car accident Suddenly Rumi is lost Why Leah? She was so much likeable than Rumi what was the point? Rumi’s mother can’t cope and she sends her away to spend the Summer with her Aunt in Hawaii Fair warning Rumi spends a lot of time hating on her mum Granted she is grieving and so angry But I found her attitude toward her mum really hard to stomach Especially when view spoiler we find out her mum was struggling with her mental health and sent Rumi away so she could sign into a psychiatric hospital hide spoiler

  6. says:

    I strum my fingers the familiar sound of Lea’s guitar filling the street like the scent of gardenias when I first landed in Hawaii Mellow Sweet But with all the heart of an island I close my eyes and sing I woke up alone abandoned in this space you left I tried to find you and fill the hole inside my chest I wanted you to stay;I tried to find a wayand I did I trapped you herewith all my pain We became a monsterI couldn’t explain I needed you to stay;I had to make you stayso I did But the sun came uplike you promised it would and we were living in a cagecut off from the rest of the world And I knew I had to set you free;I knew you couldn’t stay with me It’s time I know it’s time So I’m singing;Good bye little bird I’ll watch you fly into the blue And when the summer endsI’ll fly with you When I look up Kai is smiling the electricity turned up full force in his eyes And I know in my heart that I’ll probably never see him again Some people are meant to be forever like Lea and me And other people come into your life for a reason you help each other figure shit out and come to terms with complicated feelings that you can’t process your ownMel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  7. says:

    This review and other non spoilery reviews can be found The Book Prescription “Some people are meant to be forever like Lea and me And other people come into your life for a reason— you help each other figure shit out and come to terms with complicated feelings that you can’t process on your own” 🌟 I picked up this book as a recommendation by Noura for my 10 bloggers 10 recommendations challenge I should be honest that this is a review you may want to take with a grain of salt because I found out that as an emotional person those sad books are kind of hard for me to read So it is definitely a me not the book problem I will be objective as possible here🌟 I read Akemi’s debut Starfish and enjoyed it I think I enjoyed the writing style in that one too Not that it was bad here but the memories were kind of abrupt and the transition was not that smooth I also did not highlight many uotes as I did with her first book🌟 Rumi is the hardest kind of characters to review She was annoying and childish and she should have been mature But does that mean it was bad written? Not at all I think the author did a great job in writing a realistic kind of person that unfortunately have traits I do not like in real life I just wanted character development and I do not believe Rumi develops significantly till the end she had many wonderful opportunities to do so though I also liked the LGBT rep maybe Rumi does not want to be labelled and that’s OK but I kind of was irritated by the sudden changes she had when meeting the guy in the story🌟 The story is sad and the pacing is just right for that I did not cry and did not feel many emotions while reading it I saw many reviews about readers getting emotional and crying but I am kind of a cold but emotional person and this was hard for me to connect to🌟 Summary Summer Bird Blue was a fairly good book that I personally could not connect to I can’t think of something specific to improve the story I just think it is not a perfect book for me but it is perfect for someone looking for a book about loss and grief and an Aro Ace rep

  8. says:

    I want to cut this lump out of my throats because what the fuck Bowman I didn't sign up Actually I did but HDJJDDJFJF IM SAD this book is amazing and bye no review IM SAD another buddy read with my fave Maggie because Starfish made us cry and I know for a fact this one will too Can't wait to have my heart ripped out and stomped on 😔✊🏼

  9. says:

    This was a tragic and sad story about a teenage girl named Rumi who loses her sister Lea very suddenly in a car accident Rumi and her sister were best friends and they often wrote songs together and when her sister died they were in the middle of writing the song “Summer Bird Blue” Over the summer as Rumi deals with an unimaginable amount of grief she makes it her mission to finish the song her sister would have wanted her to finish Her Mom sends her away to Hawaii for the summer to stay with some family she hasn’t met before so she can grieve on her own which makes her feel abandoned by her mother Here are some of my general thoughts I had about this book after reading One of the most relatable characters of all time for me best friends with her sister love for songwriting and music living in Washington state and she’s asexual I really really relate to Rumi in the sense that she is very indecisive about what she wants to do with her life and she feels so much pressure from society to want certain things like romance and a relationship Here’s one of my favorite passages about her asexuality ”I’ve tried to like boys I’ve even wondered if I like girls or both But I don’t like anybody I can see when people are attractive but I don’t want to date them I don’t want to hold hands or flirt or kiss But I feel like I’m supposed to feel that way” The grief is described in such a raw and honest way it was kind of hard to read at times but her thoughts also got very repetitive with her thinking “I don’t deserve to be happy without her” and “I hate my mom for abandoning me” and “how am I ever supposed to enjoy anything in life without her” which are all normal reactions to death but as far as storytelling goes it got extremely repetitive to me Also the “memory” flashback sections got very repetitive and annoying you would be reading a chapter and then it bold letters it just says “A MEMORY” and you just get thrown into a memory and I feel like the memories could have been written into the story naturally it just felt abrupt I love love love that this book takes place in Hawaii and I love that music is such a huge part of the story I love books that follow sisters and Rumi and Lea were the actual cutest and GOSH did they remind me of me and my sister sometimes which made this book extra emotional for me It took me a couple days to get through this cause it was just so sad and hard to read at times it all felt so heavy on my heart This was looking to be a three star book for me until those final two chapters; I fucking cried and my heart felt so full but also broken at the same time I just felt all the feels at the end of this book and I think it ended perfectly view spoiler”Goodbye little birdI’ll watch you fly into the blueAnd when the summer endsI’ll fly with you” hide spoiler

  10. says:

    AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN DID NOT FAIL ME pls be as good as Starfish canceled buddy read with the brit 💖 bc neither of us could access the file through our computers rip