Avis Muir is a brilliant pastry chef, Brian Muir a corporate real estate attorney. Their son, Stanley, is the proprietor of a trendy food market. Their beautiful daughter, Felice, is missing. A runaway at 13, Felice has spent five years modeling tattoos, skateboarding, clubbing, and sleeping in a squat house or on the beach. She's about to turn 18. Soon all of the Muirs will be forced to confront their anguish, loss, and sense of betrayal. And Felice must reckon with the guilty secret that drove her away, then face her fear of losing her family and her sense of self forever.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of contemporary Miami, Birds of Paradise is filled with piercing insights into the politics of food and sugar, teen culture, and of the ebb and flow of marriage. The writing is sumptuous, the story moving, and the descriptions of food (one of Abu-Jaber's specialties) are mouth-watering.
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- Pamela Harvey
Beautiful atmosphere, as ever
If you've read the author's novel, Crescent, you won't be disappointed; the atmosphere and food descriptions are as decadent and surrounding as before. It didn't suck me in right away but I was glad I stuck with it, the story gathers momentum, Avis, Brian, Felice, and Stanley's POVs twining together tighter and tighter, like hurricanes do. There are some difficult moments, of course, but they're done with careful treatment. I sped up the narration a few times, the narration getting a little too languorous, like the Miami heat was weighing down the pacing. Probably not for listening to with younger kids, there's some coarse language appropriate to the situations.
- Rachel Anderson