Blackbird Fly

by Erin Entrada Kelly

When Analyn “Apple” Yengko gets put on the dog log—a list of the... read more

When Analyn “Apple” Yengko gets put on the dog log—a list of the ugliest girls at her southern Louisiana middle school—she finds solace in music. It’s always been a connection to her late father, who died before she and her mother came to the United States from the Philippines. Against her mom’s wishes, Apple secretly takes up guitar, and she proves to be a gifted student. She also connects with new kid Evan, the first friend she’s had who is genuinely interested in rather than dismissive of the Filipino culture that Apple can’t escape and has always found an embarrassment. The mean kids are sadly believable in Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, as is the limited ability of adults in the school to change those kids’ behavior. But that matters less and less to Apple as she immerses herself in learning the songs on the Beatles tape her father left behind, and as her friendship with Evan helps her understand that she isn’t the only outsider and that she, too, can reach out. Music and friendship transform Apple’s relationship with her mother, too, who finally lets Apple see the depth of her grief while revealing the surprising source of Apple’s musical talent. This satisfying novel traverses an arc from sadness, pain, and isolation to hope and connection. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

show less