How to Turn Into a Bird | Critical Book Review

A Quirky Tale of Skyward Aspirations

Maria Jose Ferrada’s How to Turn Into a Bird takes readers on an unconventional journey with Miguel, his peculiar uncle Ramón, his aunt Paulina, and his mother in a story that explores the complexities of family, societal norms, and the desire to escape the mundane. This Tin House Books novel, originally in Spanish and deftly translated by Elizabeth Bryer, offers a thought-provoking narrative that leaves an indelible mark.

Family Ties and Billboard Abodes

The tale centers around Miguel and his family’s intricate relationships. The town they reside in is abuzz with whispers about Ramón, who has undertaken the bizarre job of guarding a Coca-Cola billboard and has chosen to reside inside the billboard itself. This eccentric decision sets Ramón apart, rendering him an outcast in the eyes of the townsfolk.

While the consensus in town is that Ramón has lost his sanity, young Miguel perceives beyond the surface eccentricities. He recognizes Ramón’s profound discontent with the humdrum life that society dictates. Miguel secretly visits his uncle, finding solace in Ramón’s solitary contemplation of the sky and the stars, far removed from the daily grind of societal expectations.

Brewing Tensions and Life-Altering Consequences

As the townspeople grow increasingly irate over the unsightly billboard turned makeshift home, and the town’s homeless population encroaches upon the pristine borders, tensions reach a boiling point. The repercussions of these escalating tensions reshape the lives of Miguel’s family forever.

Timeless Wisdom for Contemporary Souls

Ferrada’s storytelling in How to Turn Into a Bird transcends time, resonating deeply with modern readers. The narrative, narrated from twelve-year-old Miguel’s perspective, skillfully unravels Ramón’s yearning to escape a society that marginalizes those who deviate from the norm, especially the less fortunate.

Miguel, a perceptive child, undergoes a poignant coming-of-age transformation as he becomes increasingly aware of the harsh realities and cruelties perpetrated by ordinary people. Unlike the judgmental town’s folk, Miguel approaches Ramón’s peculiar choices with fascination rather than disdain.

Ramón, previously regarded as “odd but not a bad person,” has his idiosyncrasies magnified when he moves into the billboard. An exploration of Ramón’s past provides readers with context, fostering a deep connection and empathy for his character. Within a short span, Ramón emerges vibrantly on the pages, as his musings about the stars and the silence come to life.

An Unassuming Tale with Profound Impact

How to Turn Into a Bird succeeds in delivering its message without resorting to didacticism. It maintains its emotional resonance through Miguel’s innocent and open-minded narrative voice. The book serves as an achingly intimate glimpse into the lives of a complex family, each harboring divergent dreams and desires. It serves as a powerful reminder that embracing one’s uniqueness in a conformist world is a rare and beautiful choice, regardless of the risks involved.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Tin House BooksLiterary Fiction296 pages978-1953534460

A Quirky Tale of Skyward Aspirations Maria Jose Ferrada’s How to Turn Into a Bird takes readers on an unconventional journey with Miguel, his peculiar uncle Ramón, his aunt Paulina, and his mother in a story that explores the complexities of family, societal norms, and the desire to escape the mundane. This Tin House Books…