January 13, 2014

Latest Read: Bird With the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda

Here are the basics ...
Bird With the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda
Publication date: Jan. 14, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape
Category: Young Adult - Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Drina knows the men who love to watch her dance also believe Gypsies are no better than stray dogs. But when she dances, Drina doesn't think. She forgets who she is and what seems to be her legacy: I am nothing. I belong nowhere. The daughter of a Gypsy woman and a well-to-do Spaniard who abandoned them, Drina wants only to dance. Why then does her mother forbid it? Set during the chaos of the Spanish Civil War in the fascinating world of Gypsy campgrounds, the vineyard estate of the family she has never known and the dance halls of Seville where flamenco reigns, Drina fights to discover who she is and where she belongs. Can her passion save her from the perils of the civil war? From a father lost, then found? And will she come to understand what it means to be a bird with the heart of a mountain? (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: It's been a long time since I've read a historical novel and I've never read one set during the Spanish Civil War. I was a little scared to start this one but the combination of Gypsy culture, a love of dance and the lyrical title (doesn't Bird With the Heart of a Mountain just catch your eye?) made me want to take the leap. And it was so, so worth it. The author's words just pull you in and as unfamiliar as this world was to me, I felt immersed in it and the life of a Gypsy girl named Drina. She is a Roma, born to a Gypsy mother and a Spaniard father she's never known. Her mother wants Drina to have the life she felt she was denied. She wants to mold her into someone who will tell fortunes and eventually marry for a high bride price. But that's not what Drina wants. Drina just wants to dance. It is her gift, her passion and the desire to express herself when music is playing is undeniable. And the imagery of her dancing was so vivid that I felt swept up in those moments myself.

There's a lot of historical detail here. The stage is set very well, from describing the life of a Gypsy tribe to the civil chaos going on in the background. But neither ever overwhelm the story. They provide catalysts that move the plot along but first and foremost, this is about Drina and her self-discovery. When multiple tragedies befall her and her mother, it forces Drina to step out of her comfort zone. She's constantly battling her mother's advice and what she feels in her own heart. She wants to dance. Not one, but two (technically three) men are vying for her attention. She gets a chance to meet the family she never knew she had. Drina is relatable and something about her quiet intensity and love of dance made me like her immediately.

(Super minor) reservations: I thought there was a good balance between Drina and what was going on around her and family. There is romance in the book but it always felt a bit superficial. It was clear how these men felt about her but Drina never seemed to have a clear handle on who she wanted. A part of me wishes we had delved a bit more into it but the focus of the book wasn't on romance anyway. It was more about family and Drina pursuing her dreams.

Do I recommend?: I do! I didn't expect to be so drawn into this story but I was. It's really well-written and just a fascinating story overall. If you want to try something a little different from the usual contemporary or paranormal YA, I would definitely check this out.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. I'd never heard of this book before your review, if I'm being perfectly honest. But having read what you think of it, and learning that it really swept you away into the beauty of its story, it kind of makes me want to try this one for myself. Plus, that title just happens to be pretty darn epic!

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