I don’t consider myself a big fan of summer contemporaries simply because I live on an island where it’s practically summer every single day. I always find them cliche and predictable, especially with the whole tourist aspect which I hate.
If Birds Fly Back is the complete and total opposite of what I just described. In this novel, we are presented with a mystery. Linny’s older sister, Grace has disappeared to god knows where and since then, Linny has been obsessed with the disappearances (but most importantly the returns) of random strangers. Enter Álvaro Herrera, famous novelist who was supposedly reported missing over 3 years ago, now lodging and seemingly retiring at Silver Springs retirement home in Florida. His reappearance is just what Linny needs (with her logic) to figure out the mystery of her lost sister.
Then we have Sebastian. A boy obsessed with the mysteries of the universe and astrophysics but most importantly, the mystery that is his father. Unexpected news sends him straight to Florida where, as we would expect, his and Linny’s worlds collide. With Álvaro in the middle of course. Nothing spells romance like an eighty something year old novelist who seems to be losing his wits little by little.
Together, they form an unlikely alliance and camaraderie. This is definitely what I loved best about this book. Its unconventional but sweet. We have the clash of two completely different generations and how both are now learning from each other’s mistakes.
The romance is not over the top which I appreciated immensely. The story ISN’T about Linny and Sebastian’s romance. It’s about love and all its imperfections and obstacles. It’s about how complex and borderline irritating it is to express love and how there is no correct way to do it. Linny’s relationship with her parents is strained, to put it lightly. Sebastian feels betrayed by a mother who kept part of his life a secret. Together and apart, they must work through this or lose themselves in the process.
I loved how fleshed out these characters were more than anything They both have such complex identities; Liny is biracial with a Nigerian mother and a white father and Sebastian’s latinx background won me over especially when we get to meet his aunt. There are pieces and hints of each other’s culture without them being the focus of the story. I enjoyed that but others might not and I respect that.
Linny’s love for film is fascinating and adds so much to her personality while Seb’s love for facts and scientific thought mixes surprisingly well with Linny’s personality. They’re both o likable and relatable, it’s hard not to love them. I loved the dual perspectives. Both of them had a lot to say while inside their own heads and I’m glad we got to see that.
This is the kind of story that sticks with you with its abundance of relatable passages and quotes. I felt nostalgic while reading it which is always a good sign. Nostalgia and melancholy are my signs of identifying a good contemporary. All in all, this was great book and I can see myself rereading all my favorite passages over and over again.