Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret (coming in June 2022!) is an enticing look into the spiral of self-destruction that could happen to anyone. A story of rejection, displacement, and self-inflicted isolation; this is what happens when you feel like no one understands the real you, and no one cares to. Meuret brings the pain, confusion, and exhaustion of "doing the emotional work" into stark focus with sarcastic wit and beautiful metaphor.
Critical Review: (each item on a 10-point scale)
Voice and theme consistent: 9
I enjoyed the raw feel of the narrative voice. It remained firm and stubborn like the MC and provided the tone for the reader’s expectations from the characters.
Fulfilment of promises: 7
While the MCs end arc felt correct, it lacked the gritty depth of detail that the rest of the story had.
Realistic and multi-dimensional characters: 9
It was clear that the MC had more than one issue going on to put them in this predicament and the timeline never waivered.
World building: 8
Our world was clear from the narrative; however, object permanence and placement could be more solid in the context of the MCs navigation through their environment.
The text needs another line edit pass. Not bad enough to pull the reader from the story but noticeable to a seasoned reader.
Narrative voice: 10
Stylistic/Feel (subjective): 8
While quite engaging, some areas of the narrative felt somewhat rushed. Unfortunately, this was more noticeable during the MCs transition in the end. Additionally, the use of the blackouts and unreliable narrator throughout, while effective, did result in a few areas that could cause the reader to stumble over the details while trying to follow the sequence of events in those areas. Not bad, just slightly rushed feeling.
It is clear the entirety of the story was well understood by the author. Start to finish, we understand that we are on a journey.
Character arc conclusions: 6
While we understand better the motivation of the antagonist by the end, the mystery is left somewhat shrouded where the reader expects to have it all come together. Additionally, the MCs choice is left somewhat ambiguous and is entangled in an emotional and physical upheaval. Some deeper exposition of the MCs cathartic transition could help.
Story arc conclusion: 9
Quite satisfactory. The future of the MC is clear, and the supporting characters (including the dog) clearly have an ongoing role to play.
Extra points for having a dog character. Giving the dog feelings and expectations and even motivations is brilliant. Especially given the MCs use of the dog for a surrogate to provide the kind of support and care and purpose that the MC seemed to lack from the people in their life. At one point near the conclusion, the dog’s own POV becomes more apparent. I would like to have seen a bit more focus on that as a progression from the MC having no empathetic recognition of the dog’s needs to full empathy slowly building as the MC becomes more acutely aware of themselves.
Extra points again for using the MCs job as a construct to mirror their emotional distancing from not only the world but from their own emotional neglect. I might have liked to see the MC make a final proactive change in that job dynamic; however, the current conclusion gives it a nice “this is less than important to the MC” feel.
The Mom character conclusion is not my favorite. Some readers may wonder if the mom ever gets that thing the MC was hiding. That little dynamic seemed slightly petulant on both character’s parts; however, if the MC has reached a cathartic breakthrough, and mom thinks they are dead in an earthquake, I feel like it would be reasonable and an act of character growth for the MC to retrieve the bank and get it to the mom. It would feel right to me if the MC is better able to understand and empathize with the mom’s emotional needs and perspective in the end.