Boy, Snow, Bird

Boy, Snow, Bird - Helen Oyeyemi

I am guessing this was probably the most twisted retelling of Snow White I have ever read.


My feelings are a bit conflicted on this, though they always seem to be on Helen Oyeyemi novels. They are weird. Lyrical and often intriguing, but I'm never sure I really feel like I get the payoff at the end of the novel that I am hoping I will.


Boy, Snow, and Bird are not just a random string of nouns, they are the actual names of the three main characters of the novel. Snow plays the obvious role in a Snow White retelling, except not really at all. The pieces for the retelling of the story never quite came together for me, and I never really connected to the main characters. I was confused as to what their motivations were, which would have been fine if they had done anything, but the combination of them not really doing anything and not having clear motivations and not really being likeable or relatable made this a rough read for me.


I think it might have worked better without trying to add the very basic framework of the fairy tale, because it almost never comes into play in any real way. There is a character named Snow, yes, and she has a stepmother. Said stepmother may or may not be evil, there is a side plot (or perhaps it is the main plot?) dealing with racism, and Bird's place in the whole story is still a mystery to me.


There seems to perhaps be magic here, though it is never explained or looked at closely and I'm still not sure that some of the characters weren't just kind of crazy.


I guess in the end it is a story about motherhood, and about how not to be a mother, or the reasons why being a mother won't work for some people. Honestly, the whole thing (much like the previous novel of hers I read) left me deeply confused. It was well-written, I would say, but I never connected properly with it and it didn't resonate with me at all. I could follow the plot, or what there was of it, but not the point of the plot. Why did it end where it did? What am I supposed to take from this? I can't answer those questions, and I'm not intrigued enough to bother trying to sort them out.