This coming of age story is like none other, while also resonating with everyone who ever felt different, odd, or like they had a part of themselves to hide. Owen grows up with a literal bird living inside his chest, a secret he's forced to hide along with all the other parts of his identity. His journey into adulthood is one like so many others--full of broken hearts, experimentation, and inner turmoil--and will only leave you wishing you had your own Gail the bird living right beneath your ribs.
(Note on subject matter: includes some graphic sex scenes)
—Sarah Catherine Richardson, Snail Readers Circle
“A modern coming-of-age full of love, desperation, heartache, and magic” (Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author) about “the ways in which family, grief, love, queerness, and vulnerability all intersect” (Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author). Perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Thirty Names of Night.
Though Owen Tanner has never met anyone else who has a chatty bird in their chest, medical forums would call him a Terror. From the moment Gail emerged between Owen’s ribs, his mother knew that she had to hide him away from the world. After a decade spent in hiding, Owen takes a brazen trip outdoors in the middle of a forest fire, and his life is upended forever.
Suddenly, Owen is forced to flee the home that had once felt so confining and hide in plain sight with his uncle and cousin in Washington. There, he feels the joy of finding a family among friends; of sharing the bird in his chest and being embraced fully; of falling in love and feeling the devastating heartbreak of rejection before finding a spark of happiness in the most unexpected place; of living his truth regardless of how hard the thieves of joy may try to tear him down. But the threat of the Army of Acronyms is a constant, looming presence, making Owen wonder if he’ll ever find a way out of the cycle of fear.
A heartbreaking yet hopeful novel about the things that make us unique and lovable, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest grapples with the fear, depression, and feelings of isolation that come with believing that we will never be loved, let alone accepted, for who we truly are, and learning to live fully and openly regardless.
About the Author
Emme Lund is an author living and writing in Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA from Mills College. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Time, The Rumpus, Paper Darts, and many more. In 2019, she was awarded an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction. The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is her first novel. Visit EmmeLund.net for more information.
“Lund has created a fable for our age: a modern coming of age full of love, desperation, heartache and magic. An honest celebration of life and everything we need right now in a book.”
— Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
“Emme Lund’s The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is a beautiful, tender book. I was deeply moved by this story; very caught up in the ways in which family, grief, love, queerness, and vulnerability all intersect. Lund’s sentences are sweet and stick to your ribs. I found myself falling in love with these characters—these messy, deeply realized, fully lovable, and wonderfully human people. The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is a terrific first novel and Emme Lund is a profoundly gifted writer.”
— Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth
“The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is a beautiful and atmospheric allegory for what we hide in the world, executed with tense lyricism.”
— Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, author of Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember
“Lund’s accomplished debut imagines an LGBTQ allegory with a blend of magical fantasy and stark reality. [. . .] Lund’s emotive prose treats Owen’s burgeoning development with grace and care. This fine effort succeeds at bringing new life to the coming-of-age story.”
— Publishers Weekly