Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman – Review


Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: September 11th, 2018

Pages: 375

Price: $25.99 CAD (hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


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.

First Sentence 



Yikes. I picked up this book at my local public library because I wanted some stupid summer themed books to read during my road trips and in my hammock, and Summer Bird Blue seemed like the perfect choice, but it was actually much different than I anticipated.

This book had absolutely zero plot. Nothing. Nada. I have no idea what the actual point of this story was other than the fact that Rumi is grieving her sisters death and is going to live with her aunt in Hawaii. Like other than that she’s just sitting around on the island for most of the days grieving her sister, which was really boring to read.

The idea of the book was good, not man YA books really hit you with a close loss like Summer Bird Blue, but the book is just repetitive and annoying. Like we GET that life without Lea is going to be terrible and is going to be hard but repeating it in different ways in every chapter? It gets rough after a while!

There was also the fact that there were so many characters with no actual importance to the story at all and were only people for Rumi to say her sob story to. Like the hairdresser at the salon or all of Kai’s friends, did not accomplish or contribute anything, yet we head so much from them. Another example would be the drama between Kai and his borderline abusive dad who wants him to join the military. Kai gets into big fights with him about it and Rumi talks to him about it and they make it all a big deal like “wow Kai is going to defy his dad! Thats so good! Be your own person!” but then he proceeds to willingly join the military at the end of the novel…. so what was the point of any of that dialogue?

The ending was pretty loosely closed too, we never hear of Kai’s friends again, we have no idea if Rumi has figured out her orientation yet, she has a big moment with Kai and then it takes her about three weeks before she can talk to him again, their goodbye was terrible, we don’t really know what happened to Mr. Watanabe or his family, Rumi just decides one day to forgive her mom after going off through the whole novel that she’s the most terrible person on the planet, and when her mom shows up she just goes back home like its all no biggie and she hasn’t been throwing fits whenever her aunt brought up her mother before! I thought it was just this super quick slope to the ending when it took her 300 pages to get used to Hawaii and its almost as if the author ran out of time or something and had to end the story then and there because it left alot of unfinished and confusing stuff in its wake…

Maybe its because I’ve never actually had to deal with grief before, but this story seemed overly immature and agonizingly long! I try to be polite and respect stories like this because grief is something that many people must deal with, but I just feel like it was wrongly portrayed in this book. Rumi also changes the way she feels all the time. One second she likes Kai, the next she doesn’t, one second she’s coming to terms with her sisters death and the next she digs herself this big hole and tells herself that she will never be able to live normally without her sister. Very confusing.

Final Review/Recommendation 


Nope. The whole point of this book was for her to finish the song she began to write with her sister before she died, Summer Bird Blue, but the song she writes seemed like it had nothing to do with any of the words she chose. I heard lots of amazing things on this book, but for some reason it just isn’t for me! I really tried to love it but I thought it drifted and dwelled on so many things and I just was not having it with this one. Writing a novel so bold like this one though is something to be reckoned with! I’ve also never read a book with a seemingly asexual character so pros to that!

I’d recommend this book to someone who wants a dramatic and coming of age story about grief, identity, and change!