Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen OyeyemiBoy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird

byHelen Oyeyemi

Paperback | March 3, 2015

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As seen on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where it was described as “gloriously unsettling… evoking Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Angela Carter, Edgar Allan Poe, Gabriel García Márquez, Chris Abani and even Emily Dickinson,” and already one of the year’s most widely acclaimed novels:

“Helen Oyeyemi has fully transformed from a literary prodigy into a powerful, distinctive storyteller…Transfixing and surprising.”—Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

“I don’t care what the magic mirror says; Oyeyemi is the cleverest in the land…daring and unnerving… Under Oyeyemi’s spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird ways in which identity can be transmuted in an instant — from beauty to beast or vice versa.” – Ron Charles, The Washington Post

From the prizewinning author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. 

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Heather's Review

When was the last time you read a book that made you want to call a friend and insist they read it, not just because it was a fantastic read, but because you absolutely, immediately needed someone you could talk to about it? Boy, Snow, Bird is that book. Helen Oyeyemi’s new novel is a fascinating, brilliant, and surprisingly charmin...

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H elen Oyeyemi  is the author of five novels, most recently White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. She lives in Prague.  
Title:Boy, Snow, BirdFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 7.9 × 5.08 × 0.85 inPublished:March 3, 2015Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143187449

ISBN - 13:9780143187448

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love At first I wasn't sure if liked the plot. I really don't like reading sad stories, but this book is beautifully written that I couldn't put it down. I loved all the characters in this novel. If you are looking for a book with heart, go for this one.
Date published: 2017-10-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic It's so easy to get lost inside Helen Oyeyemi's writing. Great book with a lot of interesting themes and messages, all of which are extremely relevant today.
Date published: 2017-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Revision Highly recommended to all ages!
Date published: 2017-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from “I waited seven heartbeats.” With racism becoming a national issue as of late September 2017, this book reveals the simmering and sustaining narrative that perpetuates racism, with the exception that this heart softening narrative breaks through this vicious familial cycle. It is a very engaging read, with great pacing. It has strongly written characters with realistic and superb dialogue. An example of the simple yet elegant prose is, “I waited seven heartbeats.” This is a compassionate reinterpretation of the saying, “Count to 10.” Oyeyemi gives us a very natural unaffected look at difficult topics in, "Boy, Snow, Bird," including the predominant one of racism’s effects. The crux of the novel I think can be found in this sentence; “Very few people can watch others endure humiliation without recognizing the part they play in increasing it.” This book helps us recognize our own innate racism. With nearly flawless writing, it shows the psychological development of Boy. It offers the vivid interpersonal dynamics of mixed race families. The plot had an amazing and unpredictable twist. One of the best books I have ever read. Superb book for a Book Club
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hard to love I enjoyed the story, but found it difficult to like nay of the characters, or even love to hate them. There was so much about the story that I couldn't understand until the big reveal, but even then I did not find it as satisfying as I thought I would.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was alright It was alright, I didn't really enjoy it very much. I found it a little slow and cold, in the sense that I wasn't drawn into the story or moved by the characters.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting read This was an interesting book. I was drawn to it from the synopsis mentioning that it was a re-telling of Snow White. It was entertaining to read, especially when I got to the second part. The first part of the novel didn't seem as interesting to me and it was hard for me to stay interested. Once I started the second part, I was riveted. I really enjoyed reading about Snow and Bird. The characters in this novel were interesting. I recommend you give this book a try.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book! I loved this book and the intertextual references to Snow White gave me chills. Such a good read
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I loved this book. Read it for university English class and absolutely loved reading, and discussing this book.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazed This is hands down my favourite book written in the 21sr century. Its beautifully written, and has many layers of story and meaning to discover. A great read and re-reading is also wonderful!
Date published: 2015-06-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not worth the read This book was recommended by so many people and was on the bestseller list that I decided to give it a try. I didn't find the book to be engaging enough. My interest was lost very easily and it was such a boring read. I would not recommend.
Date published: 2014-07-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Mediocre Story, hollow characters I bought this book based on the great reviews and was excited to read it. My excitement faded throughout the novel. The storyline had great potential, yet the characters were barely developed. It was difficult to understand the motivations of the character's actions because I didn't "know" them. They were merely shells to me. I was happy to see that something big happened in the final act; however, it so was rushed that it let me waiting for more detail and explanation.
Date published: 2014-06-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from SueA One of the worst books I have ever read, skipped 75% of it and had a hard time getting through the remaining 25%. A friend warned me that it was not good but thought I'd try reading it anyway, big mistake.
Date published: 2014-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heather's reads bought this as a gift for my sister. So many people have said it was a good read. It's different from others and has come highly recommended from many people
Date published: 2014-05-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very Disappointing! Each year my book club and another comes together to read and share our thoughts on one book, this year we chose Boy, Snow, Bird. The description and synopsis sound so wonderful, I really looked forward to this book and so wanted it to be good. However I found the story and the writing difficult to follow. It is not my style to be so negative, but this not only gets a thumbs down from me but of the twelve of us only 2 marginally liked it. I would recommend anyone considering this to pass on it.
Date published: 2014-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Almost fabulous I read some wonderful reviews and was eager to dive in to what promised to be a gratifying read. The first two parts did not disappoint. Elegantly written, original, and thought-provoking, Oyeyemi's story of Boy, Snow, and Bird had me captivated. Sadly, the final Act felt hastily thrown together and poorly resolved. What could have been an interesting layer to the stories of these generations of women felt more gratuitous than enriching. After such a rich, enjoyable start, the book left me feeling disappointed and somewhat cheated. Overall, Boy, Snow, Bird is worth the read.
Date published: 2014-04-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great premise, but didn't like the main character The premise of the book was very appealing to me, a white woman marries a man who appears to be white and then gives birth to a coloured daughter. Lots of possibilities begging to be explored. Unfortunately, I didn't like the main character Boy Novak. Beyond being pretty and fair, there just wasn't anything to her. I couldn't relate to her in any way. She had no convictions, nothing that she believed in , nothing she championed, nothing to like about her. She was just as transparent as the mirrors and shiny surfaces she kept gazing into. Boy's in laws were only concerned with image, what other people saw them as. Not my kind of people in the least. So very careful about everything they did so as not to rock the false boat that they found themselves living in. I can understand why they choose to live that way, but to not have included Boy in their secret, that was wrong. I did enjoy the character of Bird. She seemed like a delightful child who was able to be herself, though she was conflicted by the obsessions of her family. Of all the people in the book, she struck me at the one most capable of being truly happy. I do think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd been reading it with a group and been able to discuss the whats and whys and the historical context of the events. It would be a wonderful selection for a book club.
Date published: 2014-04-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Looked interesting. Too long, too detailed, boring. Sorry.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book that refuses to let go When was the last time you read a book that made you want to call a friend and insist they read it, not just because it was a fantastic read, but because you absolutely, immediately needed someone you could talk to about it? Boy, Snow, Bird is that book. Helen Oyeyemi’s new novel is a fascinating, brilliant, and surprisingly charming story of a mother and two daughters struggling to invent themselves while fumbling and failing to understand each other. Boy is the mother, a woman with nerves of cold steel, Snow is the beautiful, enigmatic step-daughter, and Bird is the precocious, dark-skinned child whose birth reveals the mixed-race heritage her family worked so hard to hide. Together Boy, Snow, and Bird tell a story that echoes Snow White, full of mirrors and masks, jealousy and suspicion, and all the ways we hide from ourselves. It’s a relentlessly original re-imagination, a matryoshka doll of a book with truths nesting inside lies, and characters who reveal themselves momentarily before Oyeyemi wraps them in another layer of mystery. Boy, Snow, Bird is not a book you’ll be able to keep to yourself. It’s a stunning puzzle that will leave you thinking, sharing, and talking – it is a book that refuses to let go of you.
Date published: 2014-03-03

Read from the Book

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.*** Copyright © 2014 by Helen Oyeyemi1 Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy. I’d hide myself away inside them, setting two mirrors up to face each other so that when I stood between them I was infinitely reflected in either direction. Many, many me’s. When I stood on tiptoe, we all stood on tiptoe, trying to see the first of us, and the last. The effect was dizzying, a vast pulse, not quite alive, more like the working of an automaton. I felt the reflection at my shoulder like a touch. I was on the most familiar terms with her, same as any other junior dope too lonely to be selective about the company she keeps.Mirrors showed me that I was a girl with a white-blond pigtail hanging down over one shoulder; eyebrows and lashes the same color; still, near-black eyes; and one of those faces some people call “harsh” and others call “fine-boned.” It was not unusual for me to fix a scarf around my head and spend an afternoon pretending that I was a nun from another century; my forehead was high enough. And my complexion is unpredictable, goes from near bloodless to scalded and back again, all without my permission. There are still days when I can only work out whether or not I’m upset by looking at my face.I did fine at school. I’m talking about the way boys reacted to me, actually, since some form of perversity caused me to spend most lessons pretending to absorb much less information than I actually did. Every now and then a teacher got suspicious about a paper I’d turned in and would keep me after school for questioning. “Has someone been . . . helping you?” I just shook my head and shuffled my chair sideways, avoiding the glare of the desk lamp the teacher invariably tried to shine into my eyes. Something about a girl like me writing an A-grade paper turns teachers into cops. I’ll take the appraisal of my male peers over that any day. Four out of five of them either ignored me or were disgustingly kind, the way nice boys are to the plainest Jane they know. But that was only four out of five. Number five tended to lose his balance for some reason and follow me around making the most extraordinary pleas and offers. As if some kind of bug had gotten into him. Female classmates got “anonymous” notes that said things like: So—I fall for you. Probably because I can see and hear. I see you (those eyes, that smile) and when you laugh . . . yeah, I fall. I’m not normally this sincere, so you might not be able to guess who I am. But here’s a clue . . . I’m on the football team. If you feel like taking a chance, wear a blue ribbon in your hair tomorrow and I’ll walk you home.The notes I received were more . . . tormented. More of the “You’ve got me going out of my mind” variety. Not that I lost any sleep over that stuff. How could I, when I had a little business going on the side? Boys paid me to write notes to other girls on their behalf. They trusted me. They had this notion that I knew what to say. I just wrote whatever I thought that particular girl wanted to hear and collected dollar bills on delivery. The notes my friends showed me were no work of mine, but I kept my business quiet, so it stands to reason that if anyone else had a similar business, they’d have been discreet about it too.When my hair started to darken, I combed peroxide through it. As for character, mine developed without haste or fuss. I didn’t interfere—it was all there in the mirrors. Suppose you’re born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the year nineteen hundred and thirty something. Suppose your father’s a rat catcher. (Your absent mother is never discussed, to the extent that you nurse a theory that you’re a case of spontaneous generation.) The interior of the house you grow up in is pale orange and rust brown; at dawn and sunset shadows move like hands behind the curtains— silhouettes of men with Brylcreemed waves in their hair gathered on the street corner to sing about their sweethearts in seven-part harmony, the streetcar whispering along its track, Mrs. Phillips next door beating blankets. Your father is an old-fashioned man; he kills rats the way his grandfather taught him. This means that there are little cages in the basement—usually a minimum of seven at any given time. Each cage contains a rat, lying down and making a sound somewhere between twittering and chattering: lak lak lak lak, krrrr krrrrr krrr. The basement smells of sweat; the rats are panicking, starving. They make those sounds and then you see holes in their paws and in their sides—there’s nothing else in that cage with them, and all your father does to them at first is give them water, so it stands to reason that it’s the rats making the holes, eating themselves. When your father’s about to go out on a job, he goes to the basement, selects a cage, and pulls its inhabitant’s eyes out. The rats that are blind and starving are the best at bringing death to all the other rats, that’s your father’s claim. Your father puts three or four cages in the trunk of his car and drives away. He comes back late in the evening, when the job’s done. I guess he makes a lot of money; he does business with factories and warehouses, they like him because he’s very conscientious about the cleanup afterward.So that’s Papa. Cleanest hands you’ll ever see in your life. He’ll punch you in the kidneys, from behind, or he’ll thump the back of your head and walk away sniggering while you crawl around on the floor, stunned. He does the same to his lady friend, who lives with you, until he starts going for her face. She’ll put up with a lot, but not that. One day she leaves a note under your pillow. It says: Look, I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I’d say you deserve better. Take care of yourself.You don’t get too upset about her departure, but you do wonder who’s going to let you bum Lucky Strikes now. You’re all of fifteen and you’re a jumpy kid. You don’t return people’s smiles— it’s perfectly clear to you that people can smile and smile and still be villains. One of the first things you remember is resting your head against the sink—you were just washing your hair in it, and you had to take a break because when your hair’s wet it’s so heavy you can’t lift your head without your neck wobbling. So you’re resting, and that clean hand descends out of nowhere and holds you face down in the water until you faint. You come around lying on the bathroom floor. There’s a burning feeling in your lungs that flares up higher the harder you cough, and the rat catcher’s long gone. He’s at work.Where does character come into it? Just this: I’ve always been pretty sure I could kill someone if I had to. Myself, or my father— whichever option proved most practical. I wouldn’t kill for hatred’s sake; I’d only do it to solve a problem. And only after other solutions have failed. That kind of bottom line is either in your character or it isn’t, and like I said, it develops early. My reflection would give me a slow nod from time to time, but would never say what she was thinking. There was no need.A couple of teachers asked me if I was applying to college, but I said: “Can’t afford it.” Actually, I was pretty sure that the rat catcher could, but I didn’t want to have that, or any, conversation with him. He hit me when one of his caged rats bit him. He hit me when I pronounced a word in a certain way that made him think I was acting stuck-up. (He told me that the difference between him and other people was that other people would think about kicking me in the shins only whenever I used a long word, but he went ahead and took action.) He’d hit me when I didn’t flinch at the raising of his arm, and he’d hit me when I cowered. He hit me when Charlie Vacic came over to respectfully ask if he could take me to prom. I seem to recall he began that particular beating in a roundabout way, by walking up to me with a casserole dish and dropping it on my foot. There was almost a slap-stick element to it all, I got a sudden notion that if I laughed or asked “Are you through?” he’d back off. But I didn’t try to laugh, for fear of coming in too early, or too late.There were times I thought the rat catcher was going to knock me out for sure. For instance, the morning he told me to run downstairs and blind a couple of rats real quick for him before I went to school. I said NO WAY and made inner preparations for stargazing. But he didn’t really do anything, just pointed at my clothes and said: “Rats paid for those,” then pointed at my shoes and said: “Rats paid for those,” and pointed at the food on the table and said: “Rats . . .”He imitated them: “Krrrr. Lak lak lak lak.” And he laughed. The unpredictability of his fist didn’t mean he was crazy. Far from it. Sometimes he got awfully drunk, but never to a point where he didn’t seem to know what he was doing. He was trying to train me. To do what, I don’t know. I never found out, because I ran away almost as soon as I turned twenty. I wish I knew what took me so long. He didn’t even hit me that night. He just sat in his easy chair snoozing after dinner, like always. I watched him and I woke up, I kind of just woke up. He was sleeping so peacefully, with a half-smile on his face. He didn’t know how rotten he was. He’ll never know, probably never even suspect it.My feet walked me into my bedroom while I thought it over. Then I gave my mattress a good-bye kick. I didn’t pack much because I didn’t have much. There was only one really important thing in my bag: a flag that Charlie Vacic had wrapped around my shoulders once when we were watching the Fourth of July fireworks over at Herald Square. He said it was a loan, but he never asked for it back. Ever since he’d started at medical school people talked about him as if he’d died, but he was the same old Charlie—he wrote to me from upstate, and he mentioned the flag, and that night. I’d written back that I was still looking after the flag for him. It took up a bunch of room in my bag, but I couldn’t just leave it there with the rat catcher.I did look for the key to the basement, but I couldn’t find it. Hard to say how much of a good turn it would’ve been to set those rats free after standing by while they’d starved, anyway.Three times I opened and closed the front door, testing the depth of the rat catcher’s sleep, trying to make the softest click possible. The third time I heard him shift in the chair, and he mumbled something. The fourth time I opened the door I didn’t have the nerve to close it behind me, just ran. Two girls playing hopscotch outside Three Wishes Bakery saw me coming and hopped right out of the way. I ran six or seven blocks, the street one long dancing seam of brick and bicycle bells, hats and stockings, only stopping to turn corners when traffic lights wouldn’t let me pass. I ran so fast I don’t know how my pumps stayed on. A crosstown bus, then a subway ride to Port Authority. “Nervous” simply isn’t the word. I stayed standing on the bus ride, stuck close to the driver, looking behind us, looking ahead, my heart stirring this way and that like so much hot soup, my hands stuck deep in my pockets so my sleeves couldn’t be grabbed. I was ready for the rat catcher to appear. So ready. I knew what I’d do. If he tried to take me by the elbow, if he tried to turn me around, I’d come over all tough guy, slam my skull into his forehead. I stayed ready until I got to Port Authority, where the priority shifted to not getting trampled.I really wasn’t expecting that kind of hullabaloo. If there’d been more time I’d just have stood stock-still with my eyes closed and my hands clapped over my ears, waiting for a chance to take a step toward the ticket counter without being pushed or yelled at. Folks were stampeding the last bus with everything they had—it was as if anyone unlucky enough to still be on the station platform turned into a pumpkin when the clock struck twelve. I tumbled into the bus with a particularly forceful gang of seven or so—a family, I think—tumbled off the bus again by way of getting caught up in the folds of some man’s greatcoat, and scuttled over to the ticket counter to try to find out just where this last bus was going. I saw the rat catcher in the ticket line, long and tall and adamant, four people away from the front, and I pulled my coat collar over my head. I saw the rat catcher get out of a cab and stride toward me, veins bulging out of his forehead, looking like he meant nothing but Business, I whirled around and saw the rat catcher again, pounding on the bus window, trying to find me among the passengers. Okay, so he wasn’t really there at all, but that was no reason to relax—it’d be just like him to turn up, really turn up, I mean, a moment or two after my guard came down. I saw him at least twenty times, coming at me from all angles, before I reached the counter. And when I finally did get there, the guy behind it told me it was closed for the night.“When do you open up again?” “Six in the morning.”“But I’ve got to leave tonight.”He was basically a jerk. “Jerk” isn’t a term I make free and easy use of. I don’t go around saying He/she/it is a jerk. But this guy was something special. There I was, looking right at him through the glass as I wept desperately, and there he was, petting his moustache as if it were a small and fractious creature. He sold me a ticket five minutes before the bus left, and he only did it because I slipped him an extra five dollars. I felt a bout of sarcasm coming on when he took the money, but made sure I had the ticket in my hand before I said: “My hero.” I was going to the last stop, on account of its being the farthest away—the ticket said the last stop was Flax Hill, and I’d never heard of it.“Flax Hill? Whereabouts would you say that is?”“New England,” my hero said.  “You’re gonna miss that bus.” “Where in New England? I mean . . . what state? Vermont, or what?”He studied me with narrowed eyes, selecting a nerve, the fat juicy nerve of mine he’d most like to get upon. “Or what,” he said.He drew the blinds down over the counter window, and I ran. There were only two seats left on the bus—one beside an elderly man and one beside a colored woman who was sleeping with her head laid up against the window. The man smelled somewhat urinaceous, so I sat beside the woman, who opened her eyes, asked me if she should get up, nodded, and fell asleep again when I said no. She looked just about worn-out.Across the aisle, a baby started screaming, and its mother bounced it up and down on her knees, trying to soothe it into good behavior. But the shrieking went on and on, primal, almost glad—this protest was righteous. I couldn’t make up my mind whether the baby was male or female; the only certainties were near baldness and incandescent rage. The kid didn’t like its blanket, or its rattle, or the lap it was sat on, or the world . . . the time had come to demand quality. This continued until the mother, who had been staring into space, suddenly came to and gave her child a particularly vicious look, along with a piece of information: “I don’t have a baby that acts this way.” The baby seemed taken aback, hiccupped a few times, and fell silent.I held that talisman ticket of mine smooth between my hands right up until the bus pulled out of the station, even though deep down I knew there was no way the rat catcher could have figured out where I was. It wouldn’t have occurred to him that I’d leave the state. Maybe he wouldn’t look too hard. Maybe he’d just shrug and think, Well, that’s cut down the grocery bill. (Actually, I knew he would be murderously mad—I could almost hear him bellowing: “I’m a RAT CATCHER. No two-bit wretch runs out on me, even if she is my daughter!”) Don’t think of his face—Flax Hill, Flax Hill. With a name like that, it was probably the countryside I was going to. Moonlight, hay, cows chewing cud and exchanging slow, conversational moos. It was a scenario I felt doubtful about. But I was game. I had to be.As pillows go, my bag served pretty well. I listened to the drumming of the bus wheels on the road, made a note that running away from home was as easy as pie once you’d made your mind up to it, and fell asleep with my limbs carefully arranged so as not to touch my neighbor’s.

Editorial Reviews

“The outline of [Oyeyemi’s] remarkable career glimmers with pixie dust…. Her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, continues on this bewitching path … the atmosphere of fantasy lingers over these pages like some intoxicating incense…. Under Oyeyemi’s spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird way in which identity can be transmuted in an instant—from beauty to beast or vice versa.” - The Washington Post“Oyeyemi has fully transformed from a literary prodigy into a powerful, distinctive storyteller…. Transfixing and surprising.” - Entertainment Weekly“Oyeyemi wields her words with economy and grace, and she rounds out her story with an inventive plot and memorable characters.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)“By transforming Snow White into a tale that hinges on race and cultural ideas about beauty—the danger of mirrors indeed—Oyeyemi finds a new, raw power in the classic. In her hands, the story is about secrets and lies, mothers and daughters, lost sisters and the impossibility of seeing oneself or being seen in a brutally racist world…. [Oyeyemi] elegantly and inventively turns a classic fairy tale inside out.” - Los Angeles Times“Oyeyemi is something rare—a born novelist, who gets better every book. Boy, Snow, Bird is an enchanting retelling of Snow White that mixes questions of beauty and vanity with issues of race.” - Cosmopolitan“This imaginative novel explores identity, race and family, arguing in brilliant language that black, white, good, evil, beauty and monstrosity are different sides of a single, awesome truth.” - People“Superbly inventive … examines the thorniness of race and the poisonous ways in which vanity and envy can permeate and distort perception.” - O, The Oprah Magazine“Like Salmon Rushdie and Angela Carter in the’80s, and Jeanette Winterson in the’90s, Oyeyemi has taken a page from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and inverted it, turning the malevolence of a reflecting gaze upon itself, and making it, possibly, amazingly, a positive thing. This—more than her narrative special effects—is the extraordinary feat of Boy, Snow, Bird. In her first four books, Oyeyemi wrote with the same chilly precision as Patricia Highsmith. The performance was mesmerizing, sinister, and creepy. With this book she proves an even great ability: she can thaw a heart.” - Boston Globe“Like Hitchcock, Oyeyemi is interested not merely in what happens when you attempt to pass for someone else, but in the porous boundaries between one self and another…. [Boy, Snow, Bird is] an intriguing, sinuously attractive book.” - The Guardian“Riveting, brilliant and emotionally rich … with fully realized characters, startling images, original observations and revelatory truths, this masterpiece engages the reader’s heart and mind as it captures both the complexities of racial and gender identity in the 20th century and the more intimate complexities of love in all its guises.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred)“Oyeyemi’s [voice is] startlingly distinctive yet always undulating … [Boy, Snow, Bird is] a fresh, memorable tale.” - The Huffington Post“Both exquisitely beautiful and strange…. Oyeyemi casts a powerful light on the absurdities accompanying the history of race in America and the Western world, while taking us to the landscape of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. She brilliantly raises the questions of what identifies us racially: Is it our color? Our genes? Our history? Our culture?… It is a powerful examination of the way we see others and the way others see us. And therein lies the beauty of Oyeyemi’s tale; we all are not, as Boy, Snow, Bird convinces us, what we appear to be, even to ourselves.” - Dallas Morning News“Gloriously unsettling…Boy, Snow, Bird [is] a culmination of a young life spent culling dreamscapes, Oyeyemi’s confidence is palpable—it’s clear that this is the book she’s been waiting for.” - The New York Times“Oyeyemi is one of the few storytellers who seems on intimate terms with the language of myth, swims in it with apparent ease, and teases exciting possibilities from the old stories with her hypnotic command of prose…. When Oyeyemi explores a theme, it tends to follow patterns similar to a melody rather than those of systemic analysis. Images and ideas arise, embodied in gorgeous prose.” - The Globe and Mail“Beguilingly strange…. Breathtakingly good…. Oyeyemi is hugely talented, as fearless as she is funny.” - Toronto Star“Potent and vividly written.” - NOW Magazine