Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: Flying in a Cage by Melody J. Bremen

by Melody J. Bremen
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 9 to 12

A song tugs inside me,
like a string pulling on my heart.
It wants to fly free.

Ivory Strade lives in a world of song.

As she goes to school, as she eats breakfast, as she walks down the road, she creates melodies in her mind. Every sound she hears – a distant birdsong, the wind in the trees – becomes a symphony.

No one knows about her music because Ivory is not like other ten-year-olds. When people speak to her, it’s difficult for her to untangle the words in her mind and she retreats into her own private world.

Without the words to explain what she hears, the music stays trapped inside her until, one day, an amazing music teacher shows her how to set her music free.

Fans of Sharon Draper's Out of My Mind and Ellie Terry's Forget Me Not will enjoy this novel-in-verse that follows a young girl who finds her place despite her differences.


This book takes a very unexpected and original approach, allowing the reader to sink into a girl's world and join her on her personal journey.

Ten-year-old Ivory sees the world differently from those around her; her world consists of rhythm and music. While she goes along with the daily life expected of her, others around her notice that she's unique. When Ivory is introduced to her first piano through chance, new possibilities open up to her—something which perfectly harmonizes with who she is and how she expresses herself. But not everyone understands how trapped she really is or what she really needs.

Upon opening to the first chapter, it's immediately clear that this book takes a different approach to the story than most. The entire thing is written in verse, each line on a few words, sounds and thoughts. The author submerges the reader into Ivory's world and through direct and carefully laid phrases, allows it to come to life in amazing emotion and detail. Through this artistic style of writing, the author keeps the reader in the palm of her hand and leads them exactly down the path Ivory goes.

It's an easy read and short enough to grab even reluctant readers. The sounds and sights have a simple flair, which even readers who usually stumble over vocabulary will understand. Despite Ivory's differences, she still leads a life familiar to readers of that age group and is simple to connect to.

The purpose of this book is clear—the acceptance and understanding of those who differ from the norm. In this case, Ivory is autistic and struggles to express herself, and discover her direction. As a mother of an autistic child and with several more in the surrounding family, I find the portrayal of Ivory's thoughts and her sudden well as the lateness which her situation is discovered...away from reality, which does bother a bit. But I don't think the purpose of this book is to necessarily produce a close study of autism, but rather allow the reader to get a glimpse at a different way of thinking. Not everyone views the world in the same way. Obviously, a real life Ivory wouldn't constantly have her mind running in verse or such disconnected thoughts, but this poetic approach goes a long way in bringing across emotions in a personal manner, making it easy to grasp and understand.

It's an intriguing read, which delivers a beautiful story in a touching and lovely way.

And here she is...

Melody J. Bremen writes books for middle grade and young adult readers. She lives on a distant planet where all they do is write and read books. (Sometimes they eat jelly beans.) She has a faithful computer named Oswald.

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