If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak embodies self-love and finding yourself


United By Pop received a free copy of If Birds Fly Back in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: If Birds Fly Back

Author: Carlie Sorosiak

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US.

Overall rating: 3/5

Great for: Fans of Sara Barnard, Emery Lord, and Jenny McLachlan

Themes: Contemporary, young adult, coming-of-age, romance and family dynamics

If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

Review: Linny has a fascination with those who have disappeared. Her number one obsession? Her sister, Grace. Her second obsession? Famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared at the care-home she volunteers at. If she can discern why he went away and what made him come back, perhaps she can make her sister do the same.

Sebastian knows the theory for just about everything. But he can’t figure out who his father is or why he left him. But when his mother reveals that he is none other than the renowned Alvaro Herrera, presumed dead but now residing in a care-home on the other side of America, he knows he has to meet him and solve the mystery of the disappearance that has shadowed him his entire life.

The unlikely duo are aligned by their shared fascination for the enigmatic gentleman, who seems to holds the answers to the problems that plague them. But maybe they’re looking in the wrong place. And maybe, just maybe, everything they have ever longed for is residing far closer to home.

My main source of adoration with this novel was the duo it centred around. This didn’t just parade around a bunch of cardboard-characters but gave them unique interests that made them come alive as authentic individuals. Linny, AKA Camera Girl, has a passion for film-making and the chapters in her perspectives end on short scenes from her self-created abstract film about her sister’s disappearance. Sebastian’s love for theories means his chapters begin with quotations from his favourite non-fiction and many of his experiences end with his own made-up philosophies and equations that help him understand life. Sorosiak didn’t just inform her readers of their hobbies – she made us believe in them!

This story chronicled an adorable blossoming romance that made ‘If Birds Fly Back’ the perfect read, for this time of year. Their growing attraction was obvious to the reader but I still enjoyed reading of their emerging emotions and tentative struggles to restrain them. Scenes of an absolute adorable nature followed their accepted summer romance and I now know that no more perfect date can exist if it doesn’t involve a ball pit and a horde of energised twelve-year-olds!

But there was also some grit mixed in with this sweetness. Both Linny and Sebastian are struggling with their own internal monsters, which adds notes of poignancy to, what became on times, a heart-wrenching read. They have both suffered a disappearance and it has shaped the people they have become, but they are beginning to understand that what has altered them doesn’t also have to stunt them.

As they continue to learn from each other and to grow in the presence of their shared, new-found knowledge, their demons begin to grow wings and take flight. And so to does the reader benefit from their shared experiences. Many lines of lasting brilliance end this novel and the messages it imparts are important ones. This entire novel takes place over the course of just one summer but the message it leaves the reader with are something that can be carried for a lifetime.

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