Thursday, June 11, 2020

Birdie and Me, by J. M. M. Nuanez

Life wasn't particularly happy after the death of their mother, but Jack and her little brother Birdie found their Uncle Carl to be a sympathetic soul and living with him was pretty easy.  They ate a lot of Honey Bunny Buns and Uncle Carl didn't really care that Birdie liked to wear dresses and sparkly make-up to school.  But too many run-ins with the authorities caused their Uncle Patrick to step in.

Patrick isn't as much fun as Uncle Carl and insists on buying Birdie boy clothes.  He pressures both Jack and Birdie to make more of an effort to fit in.  And, as far as the kids can tell, he doesn't even like them!

Miserable, the children try running away.  When that doesn't work, they hatch a plan to get Uncle Carl to pull his life together (and become more reliable) so they can go back to live with him.  And when all of that fails, they try to win over Uncle Patrick.  Yet, in the end, Uncle Patrick turns out to be a better friend than they realized.

Quirky and full of potential, but the novel never quite grabbed me.  It was just too depressing!  Certainly, no one could accuse Nuanez of making life rose-tinted.  Each and every character here is flawed. As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that the adults in their life have pretty much all let them down.  Everyone has issues, the children chief among them.  That gets hard to take, sucking anything fun out of the funny parts and mostly making the reader angst over the fate of the kids.

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