Review: May Bird and the Ever After (May Bird #1)
Title: May Bird and the Ever After (May Bird #1)
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Format: Paperback, Library book, SearchOhio
Published: 23 May 2006
Memorable Quote: “It was the face that was difference. The girl in the picture had the face of a warrior. Her mouth was set in a grim, determined line. Her eyes were shining with anger and despair. She looked full of darkness. And it was hard to tell truly, if was alive or dead.”
Themes: Friendship, adventure, growth, and self-discovery
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Synopsis: May Bird loves her home with her mom and cat in Briery Swamp. The swamp is the only place she truly fits in, though she desperately wishes she could fit in more with her classmates. In the swamp, she is a warrior princess, while at school, she is just “weird”. One day, however, May falls into the swamp and ends up in The Ever After where she is surrounded by ghosts, spirits, and ghouls – some good, some evil. She discovers that she is on a quest for a powerful spirit – if she can survive Bo Cleevil, who will stop at nothing to destroy her and her friends.
I grabbed this book in my attempt to read more middle grade. It was my “desk-time” book, which meant that I barely read a page a day. However, May Bird and the Ever After is a fantastic book with unique characters, clever dialogue, and a lot of heart.
To me, May was such a relatable character. She’s different, but not in the way that makes you roll your eyes at her “uniqueness”. Rather, I think most readers will feel empathetic towards her, because many of us know what it’s like to stand out for all the wrong reasons, when fitting in with our peers and having friends is what we truly want. At least, that’s how I always felt. So, yeah, I felt a lot of feels while reading about May, because I was that kid who all the other kids made fun of for being different, and no matter how much I tried to fit in, it never worked.
(Sorry, got off topic there. This book just really hit me in the feels).
Anyway, I enjoyed May’s complicated relationship with her mother because, again, relatable, but also it felt so real and honest. This book was a spooky fantasy read, but the relationships and feelings were written in such a genuine way that it was sometimes easy to forget that everything was fiction. I really appreciate this, especially in a middle grade novel, because I truly believe Anderson’s words will resonate with many young readers and make them reflect on their relationships.
This book is so important because May learns difficult lessons on who to trust, feeling regret in regards to past actions, and learning to speak up for herself. All of these lessons are ones that kids have to learn, and sometimes it’s a relief to know that someone else has gone through the same thing – even if it’s in a creepy world of the dead.
Younger readers who want something kind of spooky will enjoy May Bird and the Ever After. It’s full of everything you would want in a middle grade book.
Overall, I found this book to be a great stepping stone to fantasy for younger readers. It is definitely a darker middle grade book, but I think most kids will enjoy it’s quirky, cute, and creepy nature.