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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Sunbirds (2024) by Penelope Slocombe #NetGalley

Thanks to John Murray Press and NetGalley for providing me review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

🐦 This is not a book about birds, but about people. People who long for freedom that seems to be possessed only by birds. People who, just like birds, fly high, leaving the present place to another, whenever it likes to, without responsibility, without reserve. The question is, is it possible for human being to take the same way of life as of birds?

🐦 Torran was 18 when he left home in Taigh na Criege, Scotland, to go for a spiritual journey to India in 1997. One day he walked out of his hotel in Himalayan town of Manali, and disappeared. For months his parents had searched everywhere without avail. They didn't even know whether their only son was dead or still alive.

🐦 Seven years later, someone gave them a tip that Torran is alive, living happily in a secluded community away in Himalaya, a place called Sunshine House. Once again Anne went to Himalaya to find her son. Could she find him at last? Or more precisely, did he want to be found?

🐦 This is Penelope Slocombe's debut book, and she's inspired by real life phenomenon. Nearly two dozen Western travelers had disappeared in Northern India’s Kullu Valley between the mid 1990s and the early 2000s. I never get the idea of these hippies, my question along the story was reflected in Esther's (Torran's cousin) comment: "How could one person hold their own needs and desires so high above everyone else's?" I mean... the boy could have let the parents know that he's not coming back, that he'd found his way of living, and please leave me alone. The parents would be devastating, of course, but at least they'll get closure. Disappearing like that is just mean and selfish.

🐦 On the whole, this is quite a poignant story of helplessness, of coping with daily struggles. Anne, the mother, felt that she's not a good mom no matter how hard she tries. And through the story we meet others who feel trapped in the world he or she is at present, and the long to break free, which in my opinion, is simply irresponsibility. I loved the Himalayan, back-to-the-nature themes; loved the birds appearances - a purple sunbird, a blue-throated barber, and a whistling thrush - but found the ending is rather inconclusive. I have a feeling the author purposely made it like that to emphasize the tone of the book, but I just dislike stories that aren't rounded up nicely at the end.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

**Sunbirds will be published on August 1st, 2024**

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