Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is about 17-year old Rumi Seto who is trying to navigate her life after her younger sister, Lea, dies in a tragic accident. Rumi and her Mom were in the car too, but they were fortunate enough to survive. Struck dumbfounded by this, Rumi’s Mom sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt. This is difficult for Rumi because she was so used to having her sister by her side, and being apart from her Mother while grieving causes her to feel lots of angst. In addition to mourning the lost of her sister, Rumi feels abandoned by her Mother.
In Hawaii, her two closes allies happened to be both her neighbors: Kai, the boy of her age who enjoys surfing immensely and is very optimistic, and Mr. George Watanabe, an eighty-year-old man who has been dealing with his own demons. With Lea, Rumi would spend all her time writing and creating music. Music kept them grounded and connected; with Lea gone, music is difficult for Rumi. In Hawaii, Rumi connects back to music slowly, which ultimately takes her to connecting with Lea.
Even though this book seemed too thick initially, every page is its own painting of emotion. Bowman’s ability to pack so much emotion and feeling is incredulous. It is difficult to write about or express the grieving process, but the way Rumi is portrayed and written about, one can relate to her loss and the extent to what she is facing. In one word, the book can be described as raw. I would recommend this for anybody who is willing to invest themselves and their feelings into a story.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.