I, PARROT by Deb Olin Unferth


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A woman finds herself when she loses 42 birds.

Daphne works as an assistant to a woman who makes “positive-thought recordings,” affirmative messages for people to listen to in order to “impede the roar of the unhappy mind.” But she is occupied with her own unhappiness: her ex-husband and his new wife have been granted majority custody of their son, Noah. Her state doesn’t get easier when she's asked to take care of her boss’s 42 parrots, worth more than $100,000—some of which, her son notices, are members of a supposedly extinct species. Things go amusingly awry, and she must enlist the help of her hapless but well-meaning boyfriend, Laker, as well as an unreliable team of house painters, all named Lee Anthony. Like Daphne, Laker is a recovering alcoholic, frequently unemployed, and disproportionately inclined toward bad luck. When they discover the birds are infested with mites, their efforts to rid themselves of the problem are by turns hilarious and tragic, absurd and alarming. So, too, are their efforts to regain a healthy family structure and control over their lives. Unferth (Wait Till You See Me Dance, 2017, etc.) has written a heart-wrenching, occasionally unbelievable tale of family and feathers. The illustrations, by Haidle (Mind Afire, 2013), are beautiful. They are understated and playful without sacrificing texture or creativity. Each page is inventive; never strictly confined to the traditional graphic-novel structure of boxed illustrations, Haidle allows the characters and elements to burst from between the lines. Drawn in very few strokes, styled with elegant simplicity, Daphne, Noah, and Laker are expressive, emotional, and individual.

A heartbreaking and hopeful story of a woman's messy mettle.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-936787-65-4
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Black Balloon Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2017


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