The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on November 1, 2007
Published by HMH Books
Read From: 10.13.12 - 10.15.12
Final Rating: 4/5 strawberries
After her father dies, CeCe McGill can only wonder why he risked his life to help the ragged slaves who came to their door in the dead of night. How could he have cared so much about them when he was so cruel and coldhearted toward his only daughter?
Now under the guardianship of her kind but stern uncle Alex, a doctor and ornithologist, CeCe reluctantly accompanies him on an expedition south in search of the rare scarlet ibis - called the Ever-After Bird by slaves who believe that when they see it, they will be set free. Joined by Uncle Alex's assistant, Earline, a former slave who is now a student at Oberlin College, the three travel from plantation to plantation, hoping to find the bird. But there is another reason for their journey: Along the way, Uncle Alex is secretly pointing slaves in the direction of the Underground Railroad.
As CeCe witnesses the contrast of the luxurious lives of plantation owners with the horrendous conditions of the slaves, she comes to understand not only the motivation behind her father's choices but also the kind of person she wants to become.
Cover Blurb: At least it doesn’t look dated. I like it well enough, and all the hints about the story it has. Still not my favorite cover out of all her books, though.
What I Liked: One thing I always love about this Author’s books is she can begin a story with a somewhat unlikable protagonist, and by the end of the story, you love her. CeCe is, at first, rather bratty and not the world’s most lovable girl. But as the story progressed, I really began to like her. I liked her more than Earline, who really was rather mean to her and provoked her without cause, though I could sympathize with her after everything she had been through. I really enjoyed watching her and CeCe’s relationship grow, and I loved the moment when CeCe tried to save Earline from a whipping. Uncle Alex was lovable from the start - he would be a great older brother.
What I Disliked: Nothing.
Believability: I’ve never had anything to complain about Ann Rinaldi’s historical details. She portrays slavery as it was without going into a tangent about how all white people were evil. She’s always been very good about portraying things fairly and truthfully for all sides. The Author’s Note was especially interesting to read, since she talked about how the character of Uncle Alex was inspired by two real-life people.
Writing Style: Ann Rinaldi has always been good with accents, and this book is no exception. She writes authentic and believable negro and Southern accents, bringing the characters to life.
Content: Uncle Alex tells CeCe that before Earline ran away, she was attacked (raped) by her master, and when they’re staying at one plantation, two boys go into CeCe’s room with the intention of doing her and Earline harm. But nothing happens, and Uncle Alex offers no details on Earline’s past.
Conclusion: Ann Rinaldi’s shorter stories, like this, always end somewhat abruptly. The Reader knows that the protagonist’s life continues, but our observation of the person’s life has now ended. It’s a very realistic ending, and sometimes those sort of endings frustrate me, but with Rinaldi’s books, it always suits. I really liked The Ever-After Bird; it offered an interesting peek into plantation life, and it had many good characters.
Recommended Audience: Historical fiction fans, girl-read, most ages.