Does the name of the book bring an epic bedtime story to memory? It did to us as we picked this novel by Helen Oyeyemi. is a retelling of the classic fairytale Snow White. Apart from this title, the author has written many other books based on famous folklore and fairytales like Gingerbread, Mr. Fox and White is for Witching, among others.
Boy Novak is the name of a 20-year-old girl! Yep, that’s where the strangeness of the book begins. Boy lives with an abusive father, a rat catcher, in New York’s Lower East Side. She doesn’t know anything about her mother, and her father refuses to divulge anything about her. When her father threatens to treat her like one of his rats on her repeated questioning about her mother, she does the thing that everyone facing adverse circumstances does. She runs away. The hideout is Flax Hills.
There, she finds a best friend in Mia and gets introduced to a man named Arturo Whitman. Whitman is a widowed father living with his daughter Snow, a beautiful white-haired child. Boy doesn’t love Whitman but is fascinated by his pure soul and charming goodness. And she has taken a great liking to his daughter, mostly because she too, like her, is motherless. So, Boy and Whitman get married and soon become parents to a daughter whom they name Bird. But after her birth, the story reveals deeply put on masks of some of the characters.
The story then takes you on a magical journey with talking spiders, secrets, mirrors that don’t reflect some people. Through this story, Helen Oyeyemi wants to convey what drastic effects discrimination based on skin colour, gender, etc. can cause. The basic idea of the whole story is how looks and appearances can fool us.
Boy, Snow, Bird is mostly led by strong women characters, which is the highlight of the book. Helen Oyeyemi narrates the story through different characters. This gives the story a newer, fresher feel. Boy, Snow, Bird is a brilliant retelling of a much-loved witch tale.
We give Boy, Snow, Bird 4/5 stars. This book is recommended for all those who like reading about magic and folklore.