The Language of Seabirds

The Language of Seabirds
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Release Date
July 19, 2022
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A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It's the first summer after his parents' divorce, and he hasn't exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn't have a choice, though, so he goes... and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet -- and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting... and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.

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stunning middle grade contemporary
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THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS is a beautiful and poignant middle grade contemporary about being true to yourself and finding your way in the world. Jeremy is 12, and it feels like everything has been changing. He knows he likes boys, but he is not sure how his parents will react, especially when his dad has become so self-consumed and his mother likes to plan since the divorce. This summer, he has to make a decision about who he will live with in the aftermath, and his father has whisked him away for 2 weeks to the ocean, staying at one of his uncle's rental properties.

Once there, Jeremy knows everything feels different, not only because of the way his father is acting with making up new rules that he expects Jeremy to already know and the way he seems to be endlessly drinking, but also because he notices a boy running by and is afraid his father will notice him noticing. As he begins to stretch his freedom and travel around the beach town, he meets the boy, Evan, and together, they embark on something frightening, exciting, and new. This is the summer when Jeremy begins to figure out himself and how to stay true to himself amidst the turmoil of his life.

What I loved: This was such a beautiful and compelling read. Although this is a middle grade read with 12-year-old protagonists, the writing and the story is one that will appeal to YA audiences as well. The plight of Jeremy, not sure about coming out or how to make himself known, is one that will resonate with preteens and teens who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want from life. Themes around dealing with your parents' divorce, struggling with changing rules/boundaries, family, friendship, first relationships, standing up for yourself, and being true to who you are make this a really thought-provoking and pensive read.

Jeremy and Evan are both really fantastic characters. They are really perfect together, and the way that their friendship develops and later transitions into something different was really lovely. The title comes from one way that they connect by observing the birds on the beach and describing them more deeply with a special code. This was just beautiful.

What left me wanting more: I was a bit troubled by Jeremy's father's apparent alcoholism or at least alcohol abuse. There are not really resources given to Jeremy in the book, but it would be helpful to have information about resources in the backmatter and/or more in the story about how readers in similar situations can deal with this. While it was realistic, it was hard to see and know that Jeremy may end up choosing to live with him and deal with this throughout the year.

Final verdict: A stunning and riveting middle grade contemporary, THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS is a poignant story about being true to yourself, family, and first love. Highly recommend picking this up for middle grade and YA readers and especially for fans of HURRICANE SEASON or A SONG FOR A WHALE.
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