If Birds Fly Back
Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?
Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.
As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.
If Birds Fly Back is a sweet, melancholic story about first love and first loss. It is a classic girl meets boy story which can be quite melodramatic at times but there is no denying that we are all little suckers for a first love tale that inevitably fails or lasts for eternity.
Our main characters are Linny and Sebastian, both who are trying to come to terms with huge events which have just occurred in their lives. The disappearance of Linny’s sister causes her to find reasons for her absence or even potential return in anyone’s experience and Sebastian finds that his father is in fact not so absent as what the world has thought. Both these events leads our two characters to the one person who will bring them together – Alvaro Herrera, cult film maker and writer. From the onset, sparks fly and soon Linny and Sebastian embark on a journey we like to call love.
It’s quite strange being a seventeen (so close to eighteen) year old reading about fictional characters the same age. They’ve always been young but now that I’m officially in the young adult age group, I see the flaws of such characters so much quickly. I have to admit, Linny and Sebastian are too dramatic for my liking. They were too much like 14-15 year olds rather than people who are only a step away from adulthood. I wished so much that the two talked more. Their conversations and hang outs mainly surrounded either looking after the elderly Alvaro or sneaking around Miami in order to make sense of the little clues Alvaro hints about his life and disappearance. Whilst they’re both interesting characters – Linny with her film-making and Sebastian with his physics – they failed to be close friends, the type of close friends that leads to romance. This is why I felt that the relationship between them was so superficial – quite often they never just simply spoke to each other about their fears, experiences, wishes, troubles since it mainly just revolved around Alvaro and as a result, the chemistry between them was heavily reliant on their initial attraction to each other’s ‘hotness’. The word ‘hot’ occurs quite frequently in the character’s description of each other. Furthermore, I found that the characters were too much defined by their interests rather than who they were. Linny is very much the chick who’s really into film – her film books, film-writing, brings a camera and records everything – and Sebastian is similarly the guy who’s fascinated by the world’s workings with his science graphic tees and the compendium he treasures so much. Evidently, the characters are almost solely based on their interest in a particular field/occupation rather than the multiple dimensions that make up a person’s personality which is why Linny and Sebastian felt flat a lot of times when they were not talking or referring to that interest.
However, I did undoubtedly enjoy the book. This book allowed me to rediscover my mushy heart, how much I enjoy romance and people finding love. Despite whatever flaws I found in the romantic plot, I loved reading how passionate a person eventually is about another person after some time of being annoyed of their existence or viewing them as only an impractical bother which is how Linny and Sebastian view each other initially – ‘hot’ annoyances. In addition, I found Linny’s family dynamic original because its one of the only time where family plays such a large role in a young adult story but in a different way. They seem perfect, functional and proper but are definitely not without their own problems. I loved how Linny calls them MomandDad, as one unit since they very often echo each other’s motives, words and actions especially after Grace’s disappearance and her pivotal role without actually physically being in the story was also cleverly written as she influences Linny so much that even we come to grow attached to her.
If Birds Fly Back is an entertaining, if not perhaps slightly cliched young adult romance about two people who are unseemingly brought together by the universe’s forces who allows them to find love and meaning together from the experiences they have had.