The Star Side of Bird Hill (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson. Naomi Jackson seamlessly marries love and loss in her new novel The Star Side of Bird Hill. Jackson tells a generational story: two sisters, Dionne and Phaedra, find themselves shoved away from their New York apartment and into their grandmother, Hyacinth's, home in Barbados. It's a woman's world where the sisters find strange tradition in the heat of the Caribbean, and experience the healing powers of the witching hour. Jackson makes conveying accents through writing look easy, and you can hear the many voices make their way through Bird Hill, searching for respite in family. Jackson plays with the concept of home, where it lies and how it forms. The Star Side of Bird Hill speaks to both guardians and their children through the complex and joyful pain of life.  

— From Jordan's Picks

July 2015 Indie Next List

“In the summer of 1989, sisters Dionne and Phaedra -- aged 16 and 10, respectively -- are shuttled from their Brooklyn life to their grandmother Hyacinth's home in Barbados. Dionne is filled with palpable teenage angst and the desire for romance, while Phaedra prefers to experience the mysteries of Bird Hill with her grandmother. Both girls have a tentative curiosity about their mother's early life on the island, but it is not until their father shows up unexpectedly that they question their very identities and what it means to be 'home.' Reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid, Jackson's coming-of-age tale makes Barbados spring from the page with humor, beauty, and heartbreak.”
— Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL


Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel

This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother's limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother's mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

Jackson's Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.

Praise for The Star Side of Bird Hill

"Jackson has written a first novel full of heart and heartbreak, a novel about going home, about the ties that bind three generations of women across years and despite absence. It is a bittersweet lesson in learning to recognize love."
--Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection)

"Naomi Jackson has written a tender novel exploring the complexities of motherhood and childhood. The Star Side of Bird Hill holds together opposing elements--the book is quiet in the telling, but the story being told is sharp and vibrant. It is as much a story of the fears of childhood as it is a story about welcoming old age with optimism. A book that knows death and discovery. A book laced with pain but shimmering with hope. With care, the narrative addresses huge issues, such as mental illness, mortality, sexuality, and, at its very core, what it means to love another person as they are."
--Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

About the Author

NAOMI JACKSON was born and raised in Brooklyn by West Indian parents. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded the Maytag Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction to complete her first novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill. Jackson traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, Jackson has had her work appear in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594205958
ISBN-10: 1594205957
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: June 30th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English