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InstaReview: When We Were Birds by Ayanna Llyod Banwo



"But you? You, no. No death. You just feel like life. Make me feel to hold on to you, make me remember what normal feel like, or to drink you like something sweet and cold, keep me here in my body, just a person, not like I belong in the dark, with things that I can't even see."

When We Were Birds is a unique novel that uses magical realism and the paranormal to tell a fantastical love story. The book starts slowly, developing the backstories of our main characters Darwin and Yejide. Darwin moves to the big city, leaving his Rastafarian rituals to the countryside. While he finds a job digging graves at Fidelis, a sprawling cemetery in the center of the city, Yejide is coping with the death of her mother after a lifetime of dysfunction, mistrust, and neglect. Their two worlds collide one fateful day at Fidelis, forever changing the trajectory of their lives. While we loved this story, it took a small adjustment to read Trinidadian English. However, the writing is powerful and personifies everything. Things feel more vibrant, louder, and you can smell and hear the city coming alive around you. This is a character driven novel, which may not be for everyone, but we encourage you to dive in and enjoy the ride.

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