'Starling Days' Book Review

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

Book: Starling Days

Author: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 304 (Kindle)

Published: July 2019 (UK)

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Hello! Hope you've had a wonderful week! Today's book review is of Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's book 'Starling Days'.

Trigger Warning: Suicide.


Mina is staring over the edge of the George Washington Bridge when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the officers she's not about to jump but they don't believe her. Her husband, Oscar is called to pick her up.

Oscar hopes that leaving New York for a few months will give Mina the space to heal. They travel to London, to an apartment wall-papered with indigo-eyed birds, to Oscar's oldest friends, to a canal and blooming flower market. Mina, a classicist, searches for solutions to her failing mental health using mythological women. But she finds a beam of light in a living woman. Friendship and attraction blossom until Oscar and Mina's complicated love is tested.

(From Goodreads - Link)


I was drawn to this book as from the blurb, it sounds like a wonderful story following a woman’s journey (named Mina) after a failed suicide attempt to how she’s dealing with the aftermath and trying to cope with her depression. Unfortunately, after reading, I discovered that this book isn’t what I expected it to be.

Following from the synopsis, the book begins with Mina exploring her thought processes while considering whether or not she is going to attempt suicide. As already stated, she is saved by the emergency services where they assess her and allow her husband (Oscar) to come and collect her. Oscar decides that it’s time for a break from their busy lives and plans a trip to London for both himself and Mina. Once arrived, they’ve been given the task to decorate two London flats so they can be resold for profit. Shortly after, Oscar meets up with old friends and Mina becomes very close to one, named Phoebe, which leads to Oscar and Mina’s relationship being tested to the limits.

As I mentioned above, this book wasn’t as I expected or hoped for. I believe that Buchanan’s descriptions of depression were portrayed realistically through Mina’s character and behaviours. There were certainly highly relatable links, including spending the majority of the day sleeping in, difficulties in eating and cleaning the house – and I particularly liked the ‘bear’ and ‘fish’ days reference in relation to whether or not Mina had shaved her legs or not. Oscar’s understanding of depression was also well-written, I believe that he did treat Mina as the way you would hope – with compassion, understanding and although he did say the wrong thing at times, I suppose that is to be expected.

However, I really did think that this book would explore how Mina went from being highly suicidal to slowly beginning to enjoy life and start trying to overcome her depression. I wanted Oscar to take her to places, to try new experiences and foods and for us, the readers, to hear the honest truth of how difficult it can be to find the motivation and happiness gained from such experiences. Instead, this book explored Oscar and Mina’s relationship and put it to the test through Mina’s relationship with Phoebe. That’s not to say there weren’t elements of this mentioned, we do see how Mina used Phoebe to bring herself out of the house and how her love for Phoebe started to bring her joy. Yet this simply isn’t what I expected this book to be.

As I felt like DNF-ing the book on many occasions, I give this book two out of five stars. The two stars are given because of the (what I believe to be) realistic portrayal of depression and the well-written characters of Mina and Oscar, yet because I didn’t like the storyline of the book and wouldn’t read it again, I can’t give any more. Some trigger warnings for this book which are important to mention: Suicide, descriptive behaviours in relation to SH and there’s also some strong language.

Have you read ‘Starling Days’, what’s your opinion on this book?

Take care, Sophie x

Disclaimer: As mentioned in my 'Terms and Conditions' page, I am not asked to write my book reviews, contacted by the author/publisher in any way nor have I been given anything in exchange for my reviews, unless otherwise stated.

Starling Days

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