How to Turn Into a Bird
After years of hard work in a factory outside of Santiago, Chile, Ramón accepts a peculiar job: to look after a Coca-Cola billboard located by the highway. And it doesn't take long for Ramón to make an even more peculiar decision: to make the billboard his new home.
Twelve-year-old Miguel is enchanted by his uncle's unusual living arrangement, but the neighborhood is buzzing with gossip, declaring Ramón a madman bringing shame to the community. As he visits his uncle in a perch above it all, Miguel comes to see a different perspective, and finds himself wondering what he believes--has his uncle lost his mind, as everyone says? Is madness--and the need for freedom--contagious? Or is Ramón the only one who can see things as they really are, finding a deeper meaning in a life they can't understand from the ground?
When a local boy disappears, tensions erupt and forgotten memories come to the surface. And Miguel, no longer perched in the billboard with his uncle, witnesses the reality on the ground: a society that, in the name of peace, is not afraid to use violence.With sharp humor and a deep understanding of a child's mind, How to Turn Into a Bird is a powerful tale of coming of age, loss of innocence, and shifting perspectives that asks us: how far outside of our lives must we go to really see things clearly?
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About the Author
Elizabeth Bryer is a translator and writer from Australia. Her translations include Claudia Salazar Jiménez's Americas Prize-winning Blood of the Dawn; Aleksandra Lun's The Palimpsests, for which she was awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant; and José Luis de Juan's Napoleon's Beekeeper. Her debut novel, From Here On, Monsters, was co-winner of the 2020 Norma K. Hemming Award.
How to Turn into a Bird takes a piercing look at how the human spirit can be nurtured, even set free, by curiosity and compassionate attention--or altogether quashed by fear and judgment. María José Ferrada and translator Elizabeth Bryer have created a vivid, poignant atmosphere, both mournful and tender.--Robin Myers
Enchanting. . . . As in Ferrada's past work, this one has much to say on themes of acceptance, conformity, and societal expectations.-- "Publishers Weekly"
Exquisite.-- "Historical Novel Society"
A tender coming of age tale.-- "The Washington Post"
Provides remarkable insight. . . . The theme of the value and place of nonconformity in today's society will ring true.-- "Library Journal"
Reveals the kindnesses and cruelties that humans are capable of.-- "San Francisco Chronicle"
Fascinating.-- "Chicago Review of Books"
Excellent. . . . Ferrada, much like Jacqueline Woodson in Red at the Bone, knows that freedom may be found in the fetters of youth, allowing her readers to learn along with her characters.-- "On the Seawall"
Touching and transfixing.-- "Ms. Magazine"
A masterful, provocative, and timely artwork that shows what can happen to those who risk a life of freedom that diverges from the norm.-- "Ploughshares"
A blissful escape. . . . Gorgeously detailed, layered, and a true pleasure to read.-- "The Avocado Diaries"
Enchanting.-- "Book Riot"