Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke: Review

In Bluebird, Bluebird Locke tackles the difficulty of being a black man in the south with education, status, and the drive to make things better. Locke begins to peel back the layers of what it means to call a place that is not always welcoming home. Of being drawn to a place that is hostile to your very existence. Darren and his family have deep roots in Texas. The Mathews family has every right and reason to be proud of their family's legacy that they fought to establish while fighting against people who felt entitled to more and better simply by being born white. 

Darren's life is as about as complicated as it can get when he becomes entangled in three murder cases that all revolve around issues of race. Darren has been suspended pending an investigation, he and his wife are separated because of differing visions for their future, and Darren's trying to decide which part of the law he wants to fight for. Continue to be a Texas Ranger and fight with his boots on the ground, or finish law school and fight in the courtroom. The cherry on top of this pile of stress is Darren's mother, who is difficult at best, and is making an appearance and making demands in his life. To deal with the mess that his life is becoming, Darren finds himself seeking refuge in bottles of whiskey. When Darren thinks that his life can't get any more complicated, a phone call from a friend sends him to the tiny community of Lark, Texas to poke around in an unofficial capacity. The trip down Highway 59 sets Darren on a path to solving a crime and answering some hard questions about himself that he's been wrestling with.

Attica Locke wastes no time locking in her readers in Bluebird, Bluebird. I admit that I was partial to this story in part because of it's location. The story is set in East Texas, which is very familiar to me. My dad's people hail from the ArkLaTex area. That's Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas for those not in the know! My family and family friends still live and love in Texarkana, Shreveport, and Marshall. My family's farm is just minutes from Wiley College which is mentioned in Bluebird, Bluebird. Many of the places mentioned and described in this story were just that much more familiar to me, because I can clearly picture the farm roads, towns, and woods. I can hear the drawls and cadence of the people Locke describes. For me, this entire book felt like home and the Mathews family felt like a reflection of my own. I can barely describe how wonderful it felt to relate that closely to characters in a story. It is a very rare occurrence for me and it means a lot to truly see my reality reflected so clearly. The south is populated by many African American families who made a place for themselves and prospered through hard work and pushing for education despite the hardships and hurdles thrown at them. Unfortunately, we don't always get a realistic look at those kind of families in fiction. I appreciate Locke featuring this type of modern family as the background for Darren. Far from perfect, but reaching for their piece of the American dream. Locke did a wonderful job of encompassing the bits of really good and the really ugly of these southern communities. Close knit communities anywhere are sometimes difficult, but in the southern states, they can be especially complicated. In East Texas, as in many rural places, time has marched on, but the people there aren't growing and evolving with the times as quickly as other places. The tangled web of race, family, and community are all realistically portrayed in this story. 

The ending of Bluebird, Bluebird clearly suggests that this is the beginning of a series and I certainly hope that Locke gives us many more books featuring these characters. There would be so much to explore with Darren as the protagonist. I almost finished this in one sitting on a road trip and hated to see the story end, even though it was a perfect place to leave off. If you are looking for a good crime story I would recommend picking up Bluebird, Bluebird. Attica Locke is an author who is going to be an auto buy for me. 

**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.**

Listen to what Attica Lock has to say about Bluebird, Bluebird!


When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders--a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman--have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes--and save himself in the process--before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.


  1. Great review! It's my book club's December read - looking forward to closing the year out with this one.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Phyllis! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. It should make for some good discussion in your book club. Happy Reading!

  2. Good post, love this sharing so much, thank you!


  3. oh lawd, another book to add to my list. I'm constantly book broke every time I visit your blog, lols. Great review Monica!

    1. Bwahahahahaha! I need everyone to be as book broke as me! :)

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