'Summer Bird Blue' Book Review

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Book: Summer Bird Blue

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, LGBT

Pages: 384 (Kindle)

Published: September 2018 (UK)

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Hello everyone, I hope you've all got a wonderful day planned! Today's book review is Akemi Dawn Bowman's 'Summer Bird Blue'.


Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

(Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)


I've just finished 'Summer Bird Blue' by Akemi Dawn Bowman as the first of my LGBT reads this month. I wanted to begin with this one, as the main character (Rumi) identifies with the same sexuality as myself (asexual).

This book follows Rumi's journey through grief, after the death of her sister Lea. It provides a real insight into her highs and lows - her anger and pain, yet also her moments of hope and recovery. The book begins with Lea and Rumi beginning to write their next song 'Summer Bird Blue', yet suddenly, Lea dies in a car crash. Struck by guilt, Rumi feels that she must fulfil, what she believes to be, her sister's final wish - to finish their song 'Summer Bird Blue'.

To help the family with their grief, Rumi is taken to Hawaii to take some time out to grieve and separate herself from the family home. Here, she meets old Mr Watanabe next door, offering his grunts and opinions whenever needed and Kai (the cute, but not cute) boy next door, who uses humour to help Rumi begin to enjoy life a little more. I really liked how Bowman explored grief, as it was very emotional, honest and realistic in following the grieving process. Yet, just to make this book even better - there's asexual representation through the protagonist!

As it's LGBTQ+ Month, I really want to spend this time focussing on expanding my knowledge on sexuality and also finding out a little more about my own identity. I didn't think I would gain any answers about myself from this book, but I definitely did! Similarly to Rumi, I've never been particularly curious regarding my sexuality as I know that I'm not interested in anybody romantically or otherwise, and that's that. However, this is the first time that I've read a book where I've really related to a character in this way, I really understood what she was saying and it genuinely gave me some peace to feel understood.

This book really is a beautiful exploration of grief, and highlights the importance of friends and family when we've lost a loved one. I'd give this book a rating of four out of five stars, as it's so authentic and raw, I'm sure many will relate to Rumi's journey. There are a few trigger warnings of death, grief, depression, survivor's guilt (maybe?), difficult family relationships and a car crash.

What did you think of this book? Feel free to comment down below some more LGBTQ+ reads, that you would recommend.

Take care and stay safe,

Sophie x

'Summer Bird Blue', Akemi Dawn Bowman

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