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Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away [Kindle Edition]

Christie Watson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Winner of the 2011 Costa First Novel Award

When their mother catches their father with another woman, twelve year-old Blessing and her fourteen-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for a village in the Niger Delta, to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing. Her mother is gone all day and works suspiciously late into the night to pay the children’s school fees. Her brother, once a promising student, seems to be falling increasingly under the influence of the local group of violent teenage boys calling themselves Freedom Fighters. Her grandfather, a kind if misguided man, is trying on Islam as his new religion of choice, and is even considering the possibility of bringing in a second wife.
   But Blessing’s grandmother, wise and practical, soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife in rural Nigeria. Blessing is exposed to the horrors of genital mutilation and the devastation wrought on the environment by British and American oil companies. As Warri comes to feel like home, Blessing becomes increasingly aware of the threats to its safety, both from its unshakable but dangerous traditions and the relentless carelessness of the modern world. Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away is the witty and beautifully written story of one family’s attempt to survive a new life they could never have imagined, struggling to find a deeper sense of identity along the way.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A sure-footed debut narrated by 12-year-old Blessing, a girl growing up too fast in the troubled Niger Delta.” —People Magazine

“[An] impressive debut…Watson’s nuanced portrayal of daily life in Nigeria is peopled with flawed but tenacious characters who fight not only for survival but for dignity. Blessing is a wonderful narrator whose vivid impressions enliven Watson’s sensual prose.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[An] absorbing first novel, told through the eyes of the bright and observant Blessing…a memorable debut novel about a Nigerian girl’s coming of age.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Confronting issues of race, class, and religion, this work ponders idealistic ignorance in a way that is reminiscent of Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease. Watson’s story will appeal to readers of African and literary fiction.” — Library Journal

“Through the lens of young girl’s coming-of-age, this breakthrough novel views the politics of contemporary Nigeria, portraying the clash between traditional and modern as it affects one extended family.”—Booklist

“A first novel that knows how to tell a story, concocting a voice that lures us. Perfect pitch is not reserved for musicians; some novelists have it, too. From the very first page of her very first book, Christie Watson proves she possesses it, creating a voice that tells a tale we can’t put down.” —Barnes and Noble Review

“An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving and politically alert.” —Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland
 
“Christie Watson’s debut novel, set in the troubled Niger Delta, does what fiction does best, it captures place and ch...

Review

Selected as one of CNN.com’s 12 Good Summer Reads  

“A sure-footed debut narrated by 12-year-old Blessing, a girl growing up too fast in the troubled Niger Delta.” —People Magazine

“[An] assured, absorbing first novel…Watson’s cleanly told coming-of-age story generates real narrative momentum.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Watson is generous in her assessment of human nature, and her novel surprises even as its sense of danger is never truly at bay…[An] ultimately triumphant book.”—Miami Herald

“[An] impressive debut…Watson’s nuanced portrayal of daily life in Nigeria is peopled with flawed but tenacious characters who fight not only for survival but for dignity. Blessing is a wonderful narrator whose vivid impressions enliven Watson’s sensual prose.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[An] absorbing first novel, told through the eyes of the bright and observant Blessing…a memorable debut novel about a Nigerian girl’s coming of age.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Confronting issues of race, class, and religion, this work ponders idealistic ignorance in a way that is reminiscent of Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease. Watson’s story will appeal to readers of African and literary fiction.” — Library Journal

“Through the lens of young girl’s coming-of-age, this breakthrough novel views the politics of contemporary Nigeria, portraying the clash between traditional and modern as it affects one extended family.” —Booklist

“A first novel that knows how to tell a story, concocting a voice that lures us. Perfect pitch is not reserved for musicians; some novelists have it, too. From the very first page of her very first book, Christie Watson proves she possesses it, creating a voice that tells a tale we can’t put down.” —Barnes and Noble Review

“An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving and politically alert.” —Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland
 
“Christie Watson’s debut novel, set in the troubled Niger Delta, does what fiction does best, it captures place and characters so well that you feel you are also there. It is sincere, it is powerfully written, and it deserves to be read.” —Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water, winner of the Commonwealth Prize
 
“Watson has written an immensely absorbing novel. It is both heart wrenching and consoling.” —Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters’ Street
 
“A fascinating, poignant story that had me laughing in places and deeply moved in others.” —Ike Anya
 
“Lyrical and beautifully drawn, a poignant coming-of-age tale, set in an Africa few readers will have experienced. A must-read.” —Lesley Lokko, author of Sundowners, Saffron Skies, and Bitter Chocolate
 
“The gripping, triumphant tale of a girl who chooses life over loss, in a sweet but savage world where oil is bled from the earth.” —Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives


Product Details

  • File Size: 491 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1590514661
  • Publisher: Other Press (May 10, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FGLXGU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,580 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Story May 10, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away gives us a fascinating look at life through the innocent eyes of a twelve year old girl growing up in a small village in Warri, Nigeria.
Abruptly uprooted from all the modern comforts of life as she knew it, Blessing , her mother, and 14 year old brother are forced to move to the rural village of her mother's newly converted Muslim family in Warri. Initially shocked and horrified by the living conditions of this impoverished community, Blessing eventually learns to adapt, and then gradually to cherish her new life.
I won't go into more details about the events in this novel, so as not to give anything away, but I will say that this novel doesn't fail to deliver plenty of drama and excitement. The characters in this story are so realistically brought to life that I fell in love with every member of this family! At times I had my doubts that they were entirely fictional.
Set against the lush Nigerian backdrop, this riveting and beautiful tale completely took hold of my emotions and I cried so many different kinds of tears.
Christie Watson has obviously done her research for this debut novel and I will defiantly be keeping an eye out for future works from her.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sunbirds(3.5/5) August 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Blessings seemingly perfect life is destroyed when her mother, Timi, comes home early and finds her husband in flagrante delicto with another woman. After the shouting and screaming, the reality of the situation is that the her father decides that he wants to be the new woman and moves out of the house. Blessing's mother tries to eke out a living for herself, Blessing and her son Ezikiel but she finds it very hard with the loss of her husband's income. But the final straw and deciding factor is the loss of her job because of the change in her marital status. The whole family moves to the Niger Delta, her mother's ancestral home, where Blessing is exposed to shocking realities that her leisured life is Lagos didn't prepare her for.

Blessing is shocked by the poverty and dirt that welcome her when she arrives her grandparents' home and soon realizes that the life she knew is gone. The other children she encounters are unwashed and uneducated and she wonders how she can survive this place. Her new life seems to be full of one change after another, one hardship after another and soon all her former hopes are extinguished.

I wanted to love this book. I lived in Nigeria for many years and anytime I see a book on the subject of Nigeria, I am immediately interested to read it. But I think that my personal knowledge of Nigeria that made certain things about this book jump out at me. As I read, it sometimes felt like I was reading a book by someone who had read a guide book on Nigeria and was throwing out information and random tidbits that did not always fit in with the story being portrayed. This made the book seem less authentic to me.

I loved Blessing, she was a sweet girl. She was smart, funny and extremely patient of those around her.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Change is Coming June 21, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson opens with 12 year-old Blessing speaking to the charmed life she lives in Lagos, Nigeria with her larger-than-life father, doting mother, and her 14 year-old brother, Ezikiel. All of this will suddenly change when the mother catches the father with another woman, and he decides to leave. The father's departure starts off a chain of events; first the mother is fired from her job for being unmarried, and now unable to afford living in Lagos, moves to her parent's rural village in the troubled Delta. From the first sickening smells as they are approaching the Delta, Blessing will experience changes not only in her environment, but also will need to manage what is expected of her as a young Nigerian girl living in a village.

This enthralling coming-of-age story shows the resilience of people to adapt and overcome obstacles trying to be true to themselves with as much dignity as possible. Blessing engages the reader on her journey by merging the strange with the familiar, showing how lives are shaped by the culture and politics. As the story is told from Blessings point-of-view, like most coming-of-age stories it may expose issues without the depth some readers may like. This is not the shortcoming of the author, but of the genre. Many themes such as corporation corruption and female circumcision may render this tale too troublesome for teenage readers, while other such as the challenges obtaining elementary education, and destruction of the environment would engage the teenage reader. Through all of the chaos happening in her life, Blessing does have a guiding hand to help her demystify her new world, Nana, her grandmother.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of Age in Turbulent Times... May 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Father was a loud man..." So begins the story, as told by the protagonist Blessing, of her childhood and of growing up in Nigeria. Christie Watson's "Tiny Sunbirds Far Away" takes the reader on a journey through Blessing's life into adulthood.

It is through Blessing's eyes that the reader experiences both her familial conflict and the political turmoil gripping Nigeria. Having left an urban setting, Blessing and her brother Ezekiel must adapt to her mother's hometown of Warri and the rural, less privileged lifestyle of their mother's family. Apprenticed to her grandmother, a renowned midwife, Blessing will find her life's calling. Both Ezekiel and Blessing's mother will face challenges as their lives change; their choices will significantly affect not only their own lives, but also those of other family members. As Blessing matures, she begins to appreciate the wisdom of her grandparents and the culture they represent. She also begins to recognize and to accept the real reasons that her mother returned to her childhood home.

"Tiny Sunbirds Far Away" is a beautifully crafted novel that incorporates Nigerian culture and civil unrest into the story of a girl's coming of age. Narrated in the first person, the maturing of the main character, Blessing, is skillfully handled. The initial apprehension she experiences at her life's change gives way to acceptance and her embracing the values her grandparents represent. As she gains maturity, she also accepts and understands the choices made by her mother. Ezekiel's frustration at his circumstances and his anger at his situation are presented so that the reader empathizes with him rather than condemning him. One can only weep at the results of his actions, and their impact on the other characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
just ok book
Published 18 days ago by jill nell
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Excellent book.
Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopes, dreams, hardship and humour
A unique insight into the many facets of a country rich in resources and poor in morality, full of greed. Read more
Published 28 days ago by A. Odina
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good book. Well written. Tragic but that's what I often read.....
Published 29 days ago by Lisa Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good price, fast delivery.
Published 1 month ago by Allison Potter
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I enjoyed the book. Didn't know much about Nigeria or the extent of female mutilation. I was happy with the ending though it was a bit predictable.
Published 1 month ago by Sigal Spitzer
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the story
I loved the story. Beautifully written, With all the details of the feelings of a young girl. Life is hard, and life is precious.
Published 2 months ago by Larissa
3.0 out of 5 stars Family life in the Niger Delta
(Woul've given it 3.5 if technology allowed)

A very compulsive read, set in (for me) a totally alien country. Read more
Published 3 months ago by sally tarbox
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
I could see the characters and the setting. Both a sad yet inspiring story.
Published 3 months ago by SuzieQ
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the second book about Nigeria that I have ...
This is the second book about Nigeria that I have read this year, about the issue of the environmental damage to the countryside and how it effects the local people who live near... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Leser
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