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Devil and the Bluebird Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.
In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.
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From School Library Journal
"A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into and those we choose." (Kirkus)
"First-time novelist Mason-Black delivers a subtle, delicate tale reminiscent of the work of Charles de Lint, a magical realist journey of self-discovery and hidden depths, with fascinating characters and a captivating narrative."
"In Devil and the Bluebird, the universal question of a soul's worth feels uniquely American, drawing on the folk legend of the devil and Robert Johnson. Mason-Black's story lives on society's fringes, tangling around small-time musicians, lost souls and street kids, highlighting the beauty and brutality of wandering the world alone. Older teens will especially appreciate this allegory for finding one's voice, finding one's own kind of family, and the danger of playing "a tune that's not your own."" (ShelfAwareness)
“An eclectic mash-up of contemporary fiction and fantasy…Teens will enjoy this work for its colorful and memorable cast of transient characters. Fans of Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw’s Everybody Knows Your Name and David Arnold’s Mosquitoland will enjoy this debut."(School Library Journal)
“The odd and intriguing concept, the southern gothic backdrop, and the inclusion of nontraditional families and LGBT characters will endear this to many. Mason-Black’s writing, lyrical and woven through with song and warmth, marks her as one worth watching.”(Booklist)
"This debut novel is a beautiful and lyrical story of discovering your own voice. After each of her encounters, Blue gains understanding of the wider world and comes to learn and accept her responsibilities in both the wide world and her own smaller world. As Blue owns her own power, she understands that some things are not taken from us; we give them away. While this is a standard message in books for teenagers, this treatment is readable, engaging, and engrossing. The glow of Blue’s success lingers. Give this to readers interested in the music industry and music in general." (VOYA)
"Old-school Weetzie Bat fans will be enthralled with this musical, meandering book brimming with magical realism and all sorts of ways to find and give love." (BCCB)
"Debut author Jennifer Mason-Black's prose is fittingly lyrical, and her narrative always takes the most devilish of turns." (Bookpage)
"Expressive prose draws the reader into an overall enjoyable YA novel." (School Library Connection)
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams (May 17, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1419720007
- ISBN-13 : 978-1419720000
- Reading age : 13 years and up
- Grade level : 8 and up
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.13 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,070,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #574 in Teen & Young Adult Music Fiction
- #646 in Teen & Young Adult Magical Realism Fiction
- #1,987 in Teen & Young Adult Siblings Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
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Sapphire Blue, or “Bluebird,” or just plain Blue, a girl in her late teens, sets out to look for her older sister, Cass, who left home abruptly a couple of years before and didn’t telephone Blue on their mother’s birthday, as she’d promised she would always do. Cass is the only person Blue has felt close to after their musician mother died of cancer; their aunt, who took them in, is pleasant enough but very conventional. To speed her hunt for her sister, Blue goes to a deserted crossroads at midnight and makes a deal with a woman in a red dress, whom she believes is the devil. The woman gives Blue boots that will point her in Cass’s direction, but Blue has only six months to find her sister: if she fails, the woman can claim both of their souls. As a down payment, furthermore, the woman takes Blue’s voice; Blue cannot speak for most of the story, but must communicate by writing notes. An additional bit of “fine print” in the deal states that if Blue tells anyone her real name—or if they find it out on their own—she must leave them within three days, or harm will come to them.
Blue travels across the country with little more than her (and before that, her mother’s) guitar in its battered case, encountering good people and then bad people and then good people again and so on. It’s a somewhat repetitive alternation, but all the people are interesting, especially Steve, a young transgender person, and Tish, Blue’s mother’s former partner in music and life. The woman in the red dress shows up again from time to time, too, as does a man who seems much more like a devil than she does. As she deals with the joys and dangers of her journey, Blue learns more and more about who she is. The book is well written throughout, and I found it very satisfying. I hope we hear more from this author.
Sapphire Blue--Bluebird, secretly--has a missing sister, a pair of hiking boots, and her mother's guitar, and she makes a deal sealed with a kiss with the woman in the red dress: she will help Blue find her sister Cass, in trade for her soul. Her boots will guide her, in return for her voice--so Blue learns to speak through her guitar. When she thinks she's got the hang of the rules and the road, the woman in the red dress changes the stakes. She's got a notebook, a sketical heart, and the power of myth on her side--what waits for Blue at the end of her journey?
I love music, I love a road trip, and I love some subtle mythology, so The Devil and the Bluebird was a great read. It's a hard read too, with heartbreak with no easy answers, the politics of transience and the ache and selfishness of human nature, and Blue's mother's death creating ripples of pain across time and space. But, Blue's army of lovers--including Tish, her mother's former lover, partner in their folk rock act Dry Gully, and second mother to her and Cass, becomes something fantastic in the third act. I loved this, and can't wait to see more from Jennifer Mason-Black.
"This world, we see it through all kinds of peepholes. Microscopes, telescopes, binoculars turned backward." Laughter echoed in Blue's head, a memory of all four of them playing with a pair of binoculars. "Sometimes we see things one way, sometimes another; some of them are never recognizable again. That's the magic of being alive."
1. Reading far into the night, unable to put the book down
2. Finding characters that stay with me well after I have read the last page
This beautiful little book gifts the reader both my criteria, and so much more...