In my hunt to find unique, fulfilling summer reads I perused the internet for suggestions. The CBC had an article highlighting the top twelve Canadian authors to watch in 2015 ( The list included a few that had recently been reviewed by SPL staff, Boo by Neil Smith and Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper. Quite honestly, Birdie caught my eye because of the beautiful cover, an illustration by Cree author and artist, George Littlechild. Oh, and it was set in the West so I could get another Bingo on my STARR for Staff Bingo card.
As first the book was confusing, a jumble of characters in an unrestrained timeline. I wish Lindberg had created a family tree at the beginning of the book so I could refer back as needed but as I delved in deeper the who’s who became clearer. Birdie, a Halfbreed (Cree) woman with a dark past of familial abuse, sexual, emotional, verbal, flees her home in Alberta to escape and start anew but remains haunted wherever she goes.
Not wanting to return but missing her family and native traditions, Birdie goes on an internal coming-of-age journey of self-renewal. The journey consists of many memories from throughout her life with strong interests in the women who have been pillars throughout the years. In the process of the journey we hear the voices of Birdie’s Mother, Cousin, Aunt and the owner of the bakery she eventually lives above and works at in British Columbia. In each instance we discover that these women have also experienced hardships, coming-of-age experiences and that each of them is still on a mission to find in themselves the spirit of strong, powerful women.
I would recommend this book to readers who appreciate a twist of feminism, who like to learn about people whose lives are very different from their own, and who are interested in Cree traditions and faith. It is a fairly short novel, only 266 pages, but it is not a quick read. It is meant to be savoured. Each chapter ends with a short poem and opens with a new Cree word and one of Birdie’s dreams. It is slow, thoughtful and surprisingly funny at times. Birdie is a woman who many would meet in society and call strange, but because we know her story we see her as smart, kind, unafraid and loving. A beautiful book, from a promising Canadian author.

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