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Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Boan

Rumi is sure of one thing: she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea. And then Lea dies in a car crash. Her mother sends Rumi to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her grief. Rumi struggles with her grief as she tries to find her way back to music and finish the song she and Lea started before the crash.

Rumi is revealed to lack attraction to people through the book and struggles with her orientation and feeling like she doesn’t have it figured out. The orientations asexual and aromantic are mentioned though Rumi says she’s not sure toward the end. Through flashbacks we find out that she doesn’t like kissing and her struggle with feeling like she should have it figured out and doesn’t. She goes on a date with a guy that is later revealed she’s not attracted to but wants a friendship that’s exclusive. Rumi’s orientation is a subplot as she comes to term with the idea that she doesn’t have to have it figured out, and change is okay.

This book can be a tough read because it deals so much with grief and working through loss. Death hangs over the entire book as Rumi becomes highly aware of how nobody knows how or when they’re going to die. I don’t cry very often over books (like actual tears and stuff) but this book had me crying multiple times from almost the start, but it does end on hopeful note of healing.

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