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Book Talk: The Boy With A Bird In His Chest

Updated: Aug 8, 2022



The Boy With a Bird in His Chest is a book that possesses striking similarities to the values of healthline zine. Told from the perspective of a boy, Owen, born with a bird in a cavity in his chest, it combines magical realism with a beautiful coming-of-age story. The author, Emme Lund, follows Owen & his bird, Gail, through a painful life of isolation until they are discovered. Owen is then separated from his mother & allowed to go to school provided he keep Gail a secret from everyone & lose the trail of a doctor determined to experiment on him.


Gail is a witty & kind source of comfort to the lonely Owen, but she is also a metaphor for Owen's queerness as another part of himself he loves desperately, but doesn't fully understand or accept. The parts of this book that stuck out to me were the interactions between Owen & his gradually growing support system. They reminded me of the importance of spaces like healthline where isolation could be combated & where those who sympathize with Owen, finding themselves feeling alone or unheard could find a place to share their voice.


My favorite thing about magical realism will always be the sense of acceptance that comes from the books. While the characters have a sharp sense of being outsiders, the reader finally finds a place as weird, cool, hurt, messy & beautiful as them. Emme Lund uses lyrical writing & vivid characterization to emphasize ideas of healing, support & self-expression. This hits home for the mission of healthline zine & I highly recommend this book (& the healthline community) to anyone looking for a place to belong.


 

Stuti Desai is a 15-year-old writer from New Jersey. When they're not daydreaming, you can find them getting lost on long runs or reading obscure feminist essays. They are a hot chocolate aficionado, a Libra through and through & they love this zine more than words can describe.


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