Be Light Like a Bird
Author: Monika Schröder
Published September 1st, 2016 by Capstone Young Readers
Summary: After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.
Review: When I originally started this book over the summer, I had just finished Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee which was about a young girl’s grief after the loss of her mother, so when I picked up Be Light Like a Bird and Wren’s father passed away in the first few pages, it just emotionally wrecked me. I tried continuing, but the grief that Wren and her mother feel just lept off the page and into my heart–I had to put it down for a bit. When I picked it back up, after Augusta Scattergood recommended it, I jumped right in, prepared this time, and loved every second of my journey with Wren and her mother.
Be Light Like a Bird was so tough for me to read the first time because the emotions that Monika Schröder evokes through her writing are just so real. Wren’s mother is in the anger stage of grief and just cannot seem to leave it while Wren wants to accept and learn to live without her father, but when your only remaining parent is in such denial and anger, it really affects the young person’s life that they are raising.
I also really love Jana’s review of Be Light Like a Bird. Visit her post to see more about the book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Wren’s journey is going to be perfect for students dealing with grief, moving to a new school, bullying, or someone who wants to start a petition or stand up for something they don’t think it write. Wren and Theo work very hard in the book to save a local pond from being built over. On their political journey, they go to a town council meeting and start a petition. They are an inspiration to what young people can do to make a difference, and teachers could definitely use part of their story to discuss advocacy, environmental, or political issues their students could fight.
Discussion Questions: What are different ways to deal with grief?; What are the six stages of grief? What are some examples from the book that show that Wren and her mom went through some of the stages?; What did Theo teach Wren about herself?; Why do you think Wren chose to try to talk her mom into staying in Pyramid? Who in the town of Pyramid helped Wren feel at home?
Flagged Passages: “…I realized she wasn’t crying because she was sad–it was because she was so mad.
Then she told me to put everything I wanted to keep into a suitcase.
How do you decide what to keep when your Dad has died and your mother has turned into a raging woman you hardly recognize? If it were up to me, I would have kept everything the way it was before. But that is obviously not an option…I sad in my room and looked around, trying to decide what to pack, but the cloud was making me numb. None of the stuff really mattered anymore.” p. 13-14
Read This If You Loved: Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand, Far from Fair by Elana K. Arnold
**Thank you to M0nika for providing a copy for review!**