Book Review: The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor
A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.
Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.
This book is so sweet. And I feel totally okay with that being the main point of my review, no matter how basic or unthoughtful that seems. We need this middle grade book with sweet gay boys finding first love and connection. Their friendship is sweet, their story is sweet, and the joy and hope it fills them both with is sweet. They are so kind to each other, so vulnerable, so careful. Jeremy is at a really stressful and strange point in his life. His parents have just gotten divorced and he’s spending a few weeks with his dad and uncle while his mom moves out. He’s 12 and uncertain about everything—where he will live, what his relationship with each parent will look like, what it means to be almost a teenager, and just how much of himself he wants to share with anyone. He isn’t agonizing over being gay, he’s not bullied, and, when he eventually does come out, it’s just such a non-event that he can hardly believe it. And how lucky for him that he meets Evan, a sweet kid who works in his grandma’s thrift store, likes running, and forms an immediate connection with Jeremy. Together, they build a secret language based around all the birds at the beach and spend as much time as they can together before both go back home when vacation ends. In the background, Jeremy is also dealing with his father’s alcoholism and volatile moods, and while that’s definitely a problem in his life and one that likely won’t just magically disappear anytime soon, it is, mostly, in the background. This story is about Jeremy and Evan, about figuring out exactly who you are, and about the beautiful experience of that first romantic relationship. An all-around sweet, honest, and lovely story.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/19/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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