In looking to escape a life of abuse with little future, Boy Novak leaves the Lower East Side of Manhattan for the idyllic small town of Flax Hill. There, she marries Arturo Whitman and becomes the stepmother to his adored-by-everyone daughter, Snow. But when her own daughter, Bird, is born, Boy learns the Whitmans are actually African Americans who have been passing as white. They have strict ideas of what is considered beautiful and Boy must decide how she wants both her and her daughter to be seen by others. This book is about becoming the person you think you want to be…and deciding if that’s enough.
I appreciated the inventive approach to race relations – more about what determines beauty, rather than a study of true bigotry. However, I think I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t such a loosely adapted version of the old fairy tale. I didn’t need dwarfs or poisoned apples, but a few additional details could have been fun. Particularly, I would like a little more insight into Arturo’s mind. That said, I can’t say I disliked it; in fact, the more I think about the themes of [perception of] beauty and self loathing, the more I enjoyed it.
3 out of 5 stars.